Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What I saw on MY Spring Break (Part 5)

Water fowl. Lots of water fowl. Some of these will be present in the interior but quite a few are coastal or migratory only. Ducks, swans, geese, brant...quite the variety.

Mute Swans, considered by many to be an invasive species in need of eradication, were present in fairly large numbers. Almost every pond had at least one pair of these large birds. They make quite the racket when taking off and landing. I'm not sure if it's their wings or the slapping of their feet on the water but it's loud!

Mute Swan

I was surprised to find this solitary Snow Goose still on the salt marsh in Forsythe...until I noticed it had a broken wing and was unable to fly. Then I was surprised that it hadn't been preyed upon by either the Perigrine Falcon, raccoon or fox.

Snow Goose

The Brant is a small goose that looks a lot like a Canada Goose (which I didn NOT photograph!) but lacks the white chin patch of the Canada and is about 2/3 the size. It feeds on the salt marsh grasses along the coast and nests way up north on the Arctic and Hudson Bay coast. The hundreds I saw were probably waiting for warmer weather or a good southern tail wind to head north.


Double-crested Cormorants were in abundance on the cape. Low in the water these birds dive fro their dinner.

Double-crested Cormorant

As to why they are called "Double-crested", this shot should provide the reason.

Double crests on display.

They also like to hang out in large groups like this one on the concrete ship--the S.S. Atlantus-- at Sunset Beach. Rock jetty's and groins or even turf spits on the flats are also likely hang outs.

Cormorants on the Concrete Ship

Also swimming about the waters of the Delaware Bay were hundreds of Western Grebes. Most were fishing out on the shoals beyond the Concrete Ship, but a few were in closer to the beach. Not being in their mating plumage yet, they were rather drab looking. The black and white will be more distinct in a couple of weeks.

Western Grebe

I also witnessed a small flight of Northern Gannets over Delaware Bay. Alas they were too far out to get any pictures.

One of the ducks that will be found inland as well as along the coastal mud flats is the colorful Northern Shoveler. The huge, broad beak explains it's name.

Northern Shoveler

The Green-winged Teal is another duck that can be found inland. Sometimes folks may confuse it with the Wood Duck because of its red and green head markings. The dark beak (as opposed to orange in the Wood Duck) and the gray flanks with just a bit of cream on the hips (vs. a nearly solid cream flank of the Wood Duck) should help distinguish the two. (I did see one pair of Wood Duck on a nesting box at Forsythe but they were w-a-y out there.)

Green-winged Teal

While not a duck, I did see one American Coot paddling among the reeds in one of the pools at the Lighthouse SP.

American Coot

Then there was this oddity which I believe to be a hybrid cross between a Mallard and Black Duck.

Hybrid Mallard-x-Black Duck

1 comment:

Rev. Paul said...

All these photos are marvelous - thanks for sharing!