One thing this year has taught me is never overlook the obvious: even if it seems extremely unlikely that interesting birds or animals might be nearby, it’s worth a look. Monday, what I thought was a mallard was a Wood Duck. Yesterday, I had to visit that shopping heaven Walmart in search of a lime green volleyball. I could have bought a white, yellow, orange or turquoise volleyball at Canadian Tire, but unfortunately, only lime green would pass the requisite inspection. So out I was in Oakville near Dundas and 6th Line. There are two big storm water ponds nearby so I dug my Nikon camera out of the trunk and went for a walk around the lagoons. And found Ring Necked Ducks, ducks I’ve wanted to see all spring!
When I first glanced from the pedestrian bridge between the two ponds at the further pond, I was surprised to see what looked like Scaup. The males had the very light side panel and the ducks were diving. I’ve only seen Scaup on large bodies of water, like Lake Ontario, before so I looked more closely.
Things didn’t line up. The backs on the male ducks were black, not grey. The bills, though blue, seemed to have white on them. And the bills were the wrong shape. The females didn’t have the white mark around the base of their bills either. I began taking photos and moving cautiously closer.
The best way, for me, to get closer to diving ducks is to move while they are underwater. With 2 pair of ducks, though, it seemed like one duck was almost always up keeping an eye on me.
A killdeer took offence at my infringing on its sun bathing, and started off across the pond shrieking. A pair of Canada Geese assumed that meant I was a menace and started honking up a storm. Three female Red Winged Blackbirds shot out of the rushes near my feet. Then their suitors stormed out after them. A stealth commando I’m not!
The ducks took some note of this mass exodus and drifted slightly further out from shore. Luckily for me, a man was walking his off leash dog on the other shore, so the ducks decided I was the lesser threat and didn’t disappear completely from range.
I gave up, sat down on a convenient toppled tree trunk and dug out my Peterson’s field guide.
Ring Necked Ducks. Cool! I’d only seen one report for them anywhere near me, in Erindale Park in Mississauga, this spring. I never expected to get to see 2 pair up close and personal. And it was all thanks to a lime green volleyball.
- 1440+ Wintering Ducks, Mostly Greater Scaup, Floating off Coronation Park, Oakville, Ontario
- What Kind are the Hundreds of Ducks Floating in a Huge Raft on Lake Ontario near Oakville?
Have you met some great birds in unexpected places? Please share your experiences with a comment.