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More Autumn Waterfowl

In the past few autumns, a whole flock of migrant Lesser Scaup have taken to staging in one of the small, manmade ponds at Andrew Haydon Park. It's fun to get to see these very wild ducks up close. Over time they become tame, perhaps taking their cue from the surrounding Mallards, who evince no alarm at passing humans (but do react to passing dogs.) Last time I was there, a couple of them even came up on shore, the first time I'd ever seen scaup on land.

(female Mallard behind)

Alas, Lesser Scaup drakes wear their eclipse plumage late in the year, and by the time they're fully back in their handsome breeding plumage, they'll be gone to their wintering grounds. The photos above are both of drakes, though, being in eclipse, they resemble females. You can just see a few vague whitish patches on the back and flanks where the breeding plumage is coming back in.

Two Brant have been feeding on the park lawn for the last couple weeks. This small (duck-sized) tundra goose is a close relative to our familiar Canada Goose. It's not usually seen on manicured parkland (preferring to eat aquatic plants like eelgrass), but, like the scaup, these two seem to be taking cues from their more domesticated relatives.

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Whole flocks of this species sometimes put down to rest on the Ottawa River during their fall migration.

(Canada Geese behind)

This looks like a female Common Merganser--a common breeder in our area--at first glance. But its bright red eyes give it away as something more interesting: a Red-Breasted Merganser. See here for a look at the drake's unique, spiky-haired breeding plumage.

Green-Winged TealField Birds


November 14th, 2011 at 6:01 pm
Delightful ducks!

November 14th, 2011 at 7:31 pm
I remember loving your brant pictures last year too, =)

November 15th, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Cute little guys...

November 16th, 2011 at 8:55 pm
Great photos. I'll have to go check out those scaup this weekend to see them on dry land, if they are still around. Were there many photographers when you were there?

November 16th, 2011 at 9:03 pm
There's always a few of us, but it hasn't been overrun or anything. It's mostly hobbyists with handheld cameras, haven't seen the guys with the tripods and the huge lenses lately...

Look for scoter on the river too--on my trip to AHP yesterday, I saw a group of White-Winged Scoter surprisingly close to shore, along with one Black Scoter.