Canvasback & Greater Scaup

On January 29th, Maryland DNR sent their ice breaker to open the Kent Narrows channel that had locked up frozen.  They reported it was 10″ thick!  I watched four watermen boats attempt yesterday morning to head out of the now flowing open-water channel but turned around as they reached Prospect Bay, I suspect due to the large chunks of ice still dangerously floating with the tides.  Our temps have been steady in the low 20’s to mid/upper 30’s, helping to keep the channel flowing and not locking up again, but it is very slow in melting the surrounding freeze-over.  But with some large-area open waters now available, the waterfowl are slowly returning in search of food and shelter.  Marshy Creek is usually teaming with waterfowl species of all kinds and is a crucial resting and feeding spot for them.  As they return to our water’s iced-edge, they’re finding Marshy Creek still frozen over and so are rafting more closer to the channel and our community than usual.   🙂

I saw this activity last Saturday from my balcony and walked over to see what I might spot both at the community’s channel point and around the corner up the channel.  As I got closer, I sighted lots and lots of Mallards.  Taking my time in movement, I finally reached and found a nice flat rock on top of our community berm with the channel in front of me to sit quietly & blend in.

No one seemed disturbed by my presence.  In fact, a few of the braver Mallards began coming towards me in hopes of something to eat.  I started photographing them along with the Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, and Greater Scaup that were at a distance out in front of me, where they were either sleeping or diving for food.

And then there he was.  A lone male Canvasback came gliding past me along the berm.  I moved my camera slowly and nervously began taking his photo.  I cannot miss this shot, I told myself.  Well, he was more than obliging.  He was definitely cautious, but he continued to glide back and forth past me as I remained still with a shot here and there.  What a thrill!  I am super-pleased with my captures.  Here’s a select few….

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback and Male Duclair Mallard

Male Canvasback seeing if the Male Duclair Mallard was being fed by me?

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

I didn’t keep my camera on him so not to scare him off but I did try to keep track of where he was as I photographed others.  This one time I found him on the ice with the Mallards, what a crazy guy!

Male Canvasback with Male & Female Mallards

Male Canvasback with Male & Female Mallards

After that shot, he preened himself for a while before returning to the water.  I searched around and couldn’t spot another Canvasback in the mix of waterfowl I was watching.

So then there was this male Greater Scaup who decided he wanted a little attention as well.  Here he comes, gliding along the berm right in front of me when the Canvasback wasn’t.

Male Greater Scaup

Male Greater Scaup

Male Greater Scaup

Male Greater Scaup

Male Greater Scaup

Male Greater Scaup

At one time, I had both the Greater Scaup and the Canvasback passing each other as they passed me.

Male Greater Scaup giving the Canvasback the wing.

Male Greater Scaup and Male Canvasback

What was with the Scaup’s lifted wing?  He didn’t have it that way before and kept it lifted until the Canvasback was at a distance.

That's right, I'm bad!

That’s right, I’m bad!

The male Greater Scaup then dropped the wing & headed back towards me.  I’m guessing he was showing his stuff protecting his pretty lady who was just below me and I didn’t even know it.  I just had too much activity going on, lol.

Male & Female Greater Scaup

Male & Female Greater Scaup

Male & Female Greater Scaup

Male & Female Greater Scaup

The pair headed out into the channel where they met up with these next three female Greater Scaups.  I guessed this is where we say “lucky duck” for the male….

Female Greater Scaup

Female Greater Scaups

The Harem

The Harem

Female Greater Scaup

A fourth female Greater Scaup trying to catch up with the Harem.

Since last Saturday, the waterfowl numbers have increased, including now a huge number of  Canvasbacks.  Maybe that lone male went ahead to check out the area!  This morning, I snuck down for a five-minute shoot.

Raft of Canvasbacks

Raft of Canvasbacks

I couldn’t get very close or I would have surely scared them into flight.  So I shot from behind a bush.

xxx

Raft of Canvasbacks and Greater Scaups

_DSC0040-2 2-8-14

These two species were an absolute thrill for me to see so close (if you haven’t figured that out yet!).  🙂

28 thoughts on “Canvasback & Greater Scaup

    • Thanks Jerry, with all the ice around them, their reddish heads stand out so much nicer than the usual winter waters. It won’t be long they’ll all be heading back your way! 🙂

  1. Donna. many thanks for sharing these great photos. As a still learning duck identifier, I found these photos very helpful to distinguish the differences between scaups and canvasbacks. Keep sharing:)

  2. Wonderful pictures Donna! I’m impressed and envious, I don’t have any of those species on my list of birds. 🙂

    • So glad you love these, I love giving a closer look to our community of some of those species so hard to see or they aren’t around often. I just know I miss some awesome action while I’m at work! lol 🙂

  3. I have never seen so many Canvasbacks together. This is a real treat! Especially since it has been too cold to venture out much. nice to see the Scaups and Mallards, too. Very nice captures, Donna.

    • Thanks Jane. Soon as Marshy Creek’s freeze-over off to my right melts away, the whole cove will fill with tens of thousands of waterfowl, you wouldn’t believe how many canvasbacks you would see! I always fret each winter that my lens just can’t reach and capture the massive rafts, what a sight. 🙂

  4. Mallards are pretty too, and sometimes I find myself ignoring them. But up-close with the right light, their colors are brilliant. I’ve been editing a series of Mallards for a new post, I love their bright orange feet too! 🙂 lol

  5. Those close-ups that you took of the male Canvasback were so beautifully lit. And it was interesting to see how his loneliness was soon over as the other Canvasbacks joined him. 🙂

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