Can't Stop Watching Ducks

I'm a sick, sick girl. Once a week, for work, I am assigned to go in a plane and focus an insane amount of energy watching and counting ducks from a plane.  Then after an intense day of not stop ducking, I have to listen to the audio recording of my notes, tally the numbers and enter them in to a database.  If I have time, I try to enter the numbers in to eBird or write up little articles of our progress for the park service or other organizations.

So.  What do I do on my mornings off?

I watch freakin' ducks!  There was a report on the listservs of a long-tailed duck on Vadnais Lake in St. Paul.  But of more interest to me were the numerous other species of ducks reported on the lake.  It was mostly ring-necked ducks (there's a few mallards in the above photo too).  So, I headed out.  I didn't care if I got the long-tailed, I've seen them before, but some non work related duck watching sounded good.

In fairness, we didn't fly last week because of that massive wind storm/"landcane"/record low pressure system.  The 45 mph winds made flying 100 feet above the river a wee bit too dangerous.  Perhaps, I was feeling a bit of duck withdrawal--I was torqued and ready to go and then got the rug pulled out from under me.  I do appreciate ducks in the fall.  Most birds are brown and somber in coloration.  Male ducks--still quite colorful--above with the ring-necked ducks are a lone bufflehead and a redhead.

Here was the view of Lake Vadnais.  This view was from a pull0ut lot of the road.  Some trumpeter swans were near the shore along with a few mallards.  The large raft of ring-necked and other ducks were just beyond.  I situated myself against a tree and the swans paid little attention to me.  As they swam closer, the larger raft of ring-necks didn't seem to to be disturbed by me.

As other birders continued further down the road, the raft of ring-necks drifted towards the swans...and me!  I really enjoyed the pressure of enjoying duck colors and numbers without the pressure of counting and documenting.

The lighting was so perfect, I could actually make out the ring on the neck of the ring-necked ducks (bird in dire need of a name change).

Here's a pair of goldeneye that were mixed in with the ring-necks.

The raft of ducks were in a feeding frenzy, bobbing and dipping--the yellow eyes on most of them gave the whole party a maniacal look.  Here's a closer look at the redhead duck (love the ring-neck with just its head visible in the lower right corner).

If you find a raft of ducks in your area, take a few moments to soak up those colors before they fly off when the water freezes.