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Every spring when fresh water ducks return during mating season to our island,  a few of us also return to the same three ponds located in the Earth Sanctuary to monitor and document the count of our observations for each day until they leave for better feeding territory mid summer.  The purpose of the monitoring is to establish a constant  base of wildlife in case an environmental disaster should occur.  Researchers can than establish whether or not the disaster effected the wildlife.

Friday afternoon we observers strolled through the trails in the sanctuary stopping frequently to pull out our binoculars for close identification of the duck activity on each of these ponds.  We were amazed to find six male wood ducks and about four female males moving swiftly across the pond; three pairs of hooded mergansers and one pair of green winged teals.  They were very active, not shy or concerned about us being near the pond.  Later when they have the ducklings to care for they are well hidden and it’s difficult to sight them.

Other wildlife we saw that day was a very large fresh water turtle (18+ inches across its shell) resting on an old moss covered log with one end in the pond; it rested there during the full three hours we spent observing the wildlife; Osprey flying above Middle pond; Canada geese; mallard pair and beautiful pink flowering plants growing on the 15,000 year old floating bog in the center of fin pond.

I had to refer to my bird guide book for the details on the male/female wood ducks, merganser and green winged teal; my binoculars are not high powered to pick out the fine details.  In the distance of the sketch is the turtle on the log.   The ponds have ancient stumps, logs,  natural plants and debris thriving in them.

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12 thoughts on “Monitoring Wood ducks and other fresh water ducks

  1. The females either were nesting or hidden in the pond logs, bogs, or other natural debris in the pond. The birds weren’t noticeably coupled when I observed them but they sure were busy moving around on the surface of the water. The wildlife reserve is beautiful and full of wildlife now during the mating season and high water level.

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  2. You saw 6 drake Wood docks and 4 females, would you say two of the females already a withdrawn to their tree nest? I drew a wood duck, also named Carolina duck too because of its outstanding colours. I love the scene you drew: it is full wildlife and it have depth. It really provides the viewer with an image of your adventure.

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  3. Your comment is interesting; I always considered the PNW duck life was similar and less colorful than water birds throughout other parts of the U.S. The reason maybe I’ve only become acquainted with the birdlife along the Pacific Coast since there are so many varieties of birds it’s a challenge even to be up on whos’s who! Thanks so much for your comments.

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  4. You sure have some spectacular ducks coming to visit there — some of the showiest we have in this country. I loved your sketch, SWI, with all the wildlife and the big turtle, and then the colors highlighting the ducks.

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  5. Thank you for your recent visit, and for this very helpful description of the abundant bird life on Whidbey, which you’ve honoured with this painting. I have camped there and my sister lives in Key Peninsula, and it is a remarkable part of the world — especially Puget Sound — you are so fortunate.

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