Marshy Creek Freezes Over While Waterfowl Try To Survive
This past week brought back the extreme frigid temps to our area, this time they said was the coldest yet for our winter. They are reporting the upper Chesapeake Bay above the Bay Bridge is almost frozen over. The big tankers and cargo ships are struggling to make it through the ice.
I started a series of shots to watch the waters of Marshy Creek in case it froze over. Here you go….
It was last Sunday and days prior, we experienced extreme low tides. In the following photo, you can see a huge mud flat along the riprap to the left of our Osprey nest platform. I don’t recall ever seeing this much mud before. It brought on some activity that I’ll post about later. Marshy Creek was mostly open waters, with some freezing along the edges.
The next morning, here’s the same shot showing how much had frozen overnight during our single digits with wind chills in the minuses. Only an open water pool remained and Ruddy Ducks & Mallards had taken refuge around it, sleeping and feeding.
Monday night we were to get a squall of snow, maybe 5-8″ at most, so I packed up paperwork at the office with plans to hunker down at home Tuesday. When I got home late afternoon, there were few each of Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese, Canvasbacks, Gulls, and a pair of Gadwells feeding and sleeping. Awesome! Now my photo series included birds. 🙂
By early evening, the quantity of Canvasbacks had increased. I was glad they were back and hoped they’d stay overnight for some morning watching….ummmm, while I did my office paperwork.
The next morning, WOW! The size of the water pool had decreased substantially; and it was slam-full of Canvasbacks and Ruddy Ducks, while a few Canada Geese slept on the ice. I quickly bundled up and ran out to the balcony to take a series of photos.
In the seconds it takes to take to snap away, I saw something begin to occur in my viewfinder. Snapped a few more.
With the violent splashing and hearing the Canada Geese on the ice squawking, I looked away from my viewfinder to see what WAS going on. And in that instant, an American Bald Eagle was up in the air with an unfortunate Ruddy Duck. I quickly tried to focus on the Eagle as he swooped away and headed to the Osprey nest platform across Marshy Creek to consume breakfast.
No matter how many times I’ve seen this, I still don’t know whether I felt fortunate to see the circle of life happening or be sad for the little duck.
Life went back to normal in the pool, as the ducks went back to feeding. The sun even popped out.
About an hour after the Eagle incident, I checked out my window and the Canvasbacks were gone. Only Ruddy Ducks remained. Wished I had seen them take off and shot a series!
Their pool of water got smaller by the hour. Next photo is 5 hours later.
And why those Ruddy Ducks stayed all afternoon, I can’t figure out. They were literally ‘sittin’ ducks’. Two more times I sighted Eagles with one of them.
I’m hoping the decrease in the size of the water pool helped send the Ruddy Ducks on their way, at least so they didn’t become another snack.
Oh, and in case you ask, no I did not get my office work done that day. Something about birds distracted me….. 🙂