NBB's Guide to that Bird you saw: Ducks
Just say it over and over again! Ducks ducks ducks ducks ducks! Even the name is infused with joy, and that is because for sheer happiness, no animal bests the duck.
Perhaps Animal Reviews said it best:
Personality wise, the duck is unsurpassed. They do their best to get along with absolutely everyone, and always swim over to say hello. They even get on with swans, who are well known for their mood swings and prima donna behaviour.
Perhaps their greatest achievement however is the hilarious way in which they move around. On land, ducks stagger and lurch like a drunk with a gammy leg. Flying is little better - they look likely to crash land at any given moment. Watching them swim is fascinating. Ducks never seem to actually go anywhere at all, preferring to spend their time instead pretending to be mini hovercrafts. They turn in 360 degree circles all the time. Why? Just because they can. Fantastic.
Ducks have been clinically proven to be an antidote for mild depression. Feeling a little blue? Head down to your local pond and like a herd of miniature concierges, the ducks will surround you, attempting to wow you with their comic antics and general good outlook on life. All they ask in return is a little food (Please, do not try to fool them by pulling blades of grass—you're only embarrassing yourself further. If you don't have any feed for them, that's okay, they'll wander off, no ill feeling, no harm done guv'nor, these things happen. Should you return later, you'll get the exact same treatment. Ducks hold no grudges.
Me, I could while away a whole afternoon with your garden variety pond duck (pondus duckus). Identification is dead simple, you listen for the distinctive "quack" or simply watch for a spot where two year olds are running after them: ducks are genetically engineered to be slightly faster than a toddler running at top speed. Or perhaps they're merely humoring the kid. That'd be just like them. Good ol' ducks.
I don't think that I'm going too far out on a ledge to say that ducks are the best bird ever, and are a truly remarkable story, adapting perfectly to human society and filling an ecological niche wherever gumball machines filled with dry dog food (which I think reproduce in a mushroom-like way, via spores) happen to spring up.
My wife has asked me to point out here that I am more precisely talking about Mallards, and that there are many kinds of ducks, some of whom are extremely skittish around people. This, to me, points out the central insanity of the birdwatcher: they don't like ducks.
Or rather, they do like ducks, ducks can be very exciting and they will drive hours and hours away to see one: provided it is a) rare and b) does not want to be seen. In other words, isn't a proper duck at all, but might as well be a swan. And nobody likes swans. Not even birders.
The Shaz has asked me to mention that one of her favorite sites, Mike's Digiscoping Blog is shutting down. Let's hope it's only a haitus, as his images are pretty remarkable. Check it out, yo.