Duck luck

Shoveler ducks on Saracen Lake

Sister Shoveler decides it is time just arriving to check on the boys. A second or two later, she completed her landing and was swimming with the gaggle of fellow travelers.

I had an itch to shoot and headed to Saracen Lake which is normally good for a favorable snap or two. My expectations were to stroll around the lake hiking trail and shoot a few grebe and pelican pictures. To my great delight upon arrival at the lake, there were hundreds and hundreds of Northern Shoveler ducks plying the waters in search of food.

Shoveler ducks feeding

Click on the ducks to see even more ducks. Cool stuff at Corndancer.

These ducks get their moniker from their large, spade-like bills. Their diet is aquatic invertebrates  and small plant matter. The shovel bill makes it easy to consist on that diet. When feeding, they swim with the biggest part of their beaks submerged.

Before we go much further we encourage you to take a look at the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where you will see more shoveler duck pictures and get in on the start of this story. We’ll wait here while you look.

Female shoveler duck bites male shoveler

Ms. Duck sez to Mr. Duck, back off boy. Get out of my face or I will do some serious damage to yours.

These ducks were closer to the shore than usual, so dismounting from the venerable almost-nearly-300,000-mile-pickup was inadvisable. Critters will accept the truck well as long as you stay inside. They spook in a heartbeat when the door opens. This means balancing the long lens on a partially opened window, sometimes a contortionist practice. One can hear the snap, crackle and pop of aging joints in the process.

Gull on Saracen Lake shore

When the Arkansas River opened for navigation in the sixties, gulls followed towboats up river from south Louisiana. A few decided to stay so we have a year-round gull population. This one is Wilbur T. Gull, long-lost brother-in-law to Jonathan. While I was maneuvering on the parking lot for a better duck angle, Wilbur presented himself to be photographed. Far be it from me to refuse his request.

pelican flying with kingfisher in tree

When I finished the maneuver, I noticed a big pelican taking wing. I swung the lens around and got lucky. I realized I was even luckier after opening the file and seeing the kingfisher in the tree to the upper left.

Egret scratching

Once I was in place, increasing park traffic spooked the ducks. I went to nearby Lake Langhofer where I spotted this egret who seemed to say, “Well, a body just has to scratch every now and then. OK?

diving duck

I returned to Saracen Lake for more shovelers, but they had scattered like a covey of quail. But, there were a few of these little ducks near the shore diving, surfacing, diving surfacing – repeat if necessary. I’m not sure of their species, but on the cute scale, they well qualify for inclusion in this epistle. You have to shoot fast. It almost looks like they stay below water longer on it. 01-19-15 update: My friend David Brown has identified this critter as a female Ruddy Duck. Thanks David!

Thanks for dropping by and sharing the ducky-get-lucky trip to the lake. See you next week.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


2 Responses

  1. Joseph,

    I believe the cutie pie at the end is a female Ruddy Duck. They taste like baby seal.

  2. […] a look at our January 15, 2015 post and see these pretty ducks at work. While you are there, you’ll see a pelican, an egret and […]

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