Thursday, September 01, 2016


A few days ago, I grabbed Bear for a " Just you and me boy" walk. Every once in awhile, we need these "Coquina-less" walks to talk about guy stuff.

Our first stop was the pond. I was curious about the water level after some pretty regular rains and it had been a few days since I last checked.

It was late in the day, the sun was just dipping behind the tall oaks of PFHQ as we walked  ... pretty unstealthily ... down the slope to the pond.

As we hit the swale just before the pond bank, a flash of rosy color on the pond's green surface caught my eye. 

I grabbed Bear by the collar.

The bit of rosy color in the floating pennywort mats moved.

Holy Smokes!

It was a duck ... 2 ducks!
And not just your average duck ... although I would have been happy about that too.

These were, "I've never seen these outside a zoo" ducks, and certainly not in my own pond.

I did not have my camera.

The ducks had spotted me and were moving cautiously away from their location directly in front of us.
They didn't hurry, didn't fly, didn't swim away ... rather, they just took a few spongy steps across the floating plants and stopped.

Somehow, Bear had not noticed them.
This is a dog who will not glance at a squirrel, but any larger flying bird like our owls or even high flying vultures will often get a barking chase.

If he saw them, this opportunity was over.

My mission: 
Turn Bear around quickly and cut short our walk.
Then return with the Canon 70D.
Had he pooped yet?
My mind was a blur ... yes, on the way down he stopped behind the young magnolia tree.

I said the magic words:
"Hey Bearzy, wanna chewie? Home for a chewie!"

He dashed for the front porch.

So did I.

The way these events usually turn out is by the time I get back with the camera, the critter is gone. 
Not THIS time though.

When I arrived at the pond, the ducks were still there.
The light was low, but the ducks were surprisingly cooperative. 
As I very slowly moved along the bank, so did they, and always keeping an eye on me.
They never flew off though.
That and the fact that there was something unseen moving the pennywort leaves near them made me wonder if ducklings were involved here.
Had these feathered bits of awesomeness NESTED around my swampy pond?
Would THAT not be awesome?

No proof of life on that hypothesis, but for wild ducks, these guys did not want to abandon this small pond for some reason, even as I tracked them along the shore.

Plus, they were there the next day, and I bet if I go down today, I'll find them again.

My brain said they were a tree duck, but I was living in the past.
And all I could think of was "Fulvous".
So, as it turns out, I would have been in the ballpark, but wrong on both counts.
I Googled on my phone as I photographed with my Canon.
It seems they are the "duck formerly known as the Black Bellied Tree Duck".

These days they are "Whistling" ducks, and this pair specifically are Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.

Well, that name made perfect sense.
Ducks with black bellies ... check.
Whistling calls, not quacks ... check.

One happy pond owner ... check.


robin andrea said...

Wow! Such a fantastic and beautiful pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in your pond. Love this so much!

Wally Jones said...

Nice visitors and/or new residents! These guys have really been expanding their range the past few years.

Stay safe with all the storm surge/more rain/possible twisters, etc.

Never a dull moment in the "Sunshine State"!

Myamuhnative said...

Well,they do roost in trees! First time I saw a pair up in a pine tree my brain kind of exploded!

Lisa Greenbow said...

How exciting!! Your pictures are good too. Lucky you.