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10 December 2009 @ 09:13 pm
More Winter Birding  

After spending almost two hours at Mud Lake I headed west to Andrew Haydon Park. A prime spot for waterfowl and gulls, I hoped to add a few new species to my winter list. The day was a little warmer, and when the sun was shining it didn't feel like winter at all. Except for the thin skin of ice covering part of the pond's surface, it didn't look much like winter, either, as the grass was still green.

I parked by the western pond and walked over to the river. There weren't a lot of species present, but I did manage to add Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls to my list. The only other species I saw were two White-winged Scoters, several Common Goldeneyes, and lots of Canada Geese.


Green-winged Teal


After scanning the river I turned my attention to the pond. I had been told that a Cackling Goose had been swimming on the pond earlier in the day, though I failed to find it among the few Canada Geese that were present. Among the rocks at the western end of the pond, however, I found a single male Green-winged Teal preening in the water. To my delight, he hopped up onto the rock and into the sunlight!



Green-winged Teal


I like the way you can see the two green stripes on the side of his head in this photo:



Green-winged Teal


Once he was done preening, he shook himself out, then left the rock and jumped into the water again. He swam toward the shore and began foraging in the muck at the water's edge where I was able to take a few more pictures.



Green-winged Teal


A large raft of Lesser Scaup was also still present on the western pond. Interestingly, there were no adult males - just females and immature males. One female was licking the algae off one of the rocks, so I eased closer to try to photograph her. She started swimming away when she saw me.



Lesser Scaup


With a few glances back, she was gone, joining the rest of the scaup in the center of the pond.



Lesser Scaup


Also on my ramblings today I was thrilled to see a very white Short-tailed Weasel...as we have not yet received any snow, he was very conspicuous against the ground. He darted into hole beneath one of the rocks, and so I carefully made my way down to the same level so I could photograph him coming out. He poked his head out for a moment or two, looked at me, then turned and darted back into the hole.



Short-tailed Weasel


I was watching the area carefully, my finger on the shutter button of my camera in case he popped out again, then noticed movement above me. The weasel had stuck his head out of a different hole, this one above where I was sitting. He stretched his long neck out and sniffed the area before disappearing into the rocks again.



Short-tailed Weasel


After another minute, the weasel emerged from yet another another gap in the rocks, and looked at me for a longer moment. I began to wonder if I was blocking the path he wanted to take, for he didn't turn around and run the other way. Instead, he kept poking his head out of the rocks and looking at me as if to see if I was still there. While it was very cute, I decided I had interfered with his plans long enough and packed up my camera and left. If the small weasel came out after my departure, I didn't see him.



Short-tailed Weasel


It was a fantastic day, with lots of interesting mammals and birds. In addition to the weasel and the squirrels I saw a single White-tailed Deer running in a field parallel to Carling Avenue near Shirley's Bay and a porcupine in a tree along March Valley Road. I brought my winter list up to a total of 33 species and managed to get some excellent pictures of the Green-winged Teal and the weasel. For the beginning of December and the long winter season, it was an excellent day indeed!




 
 
 
Xray Is As Xray Doesxraytheenforcer on December 14th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
I want to squeeze that weasel -- so cute. I love the colors you managed on the teal, too. wow!
(Anonymous) on December 14th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I think you've nailed the technique for taking this little white weasel's photo. I don't think it would sit still, even for a second or two for most others who have tried to take its picture.