Friday, March 09, 2007

Ruddy Ducks and an aggregation of coots

Lots of new snow a couple nights ago, three or four inches. Now, beautiful sunshine!

Out on Hoffman Pond I've been watching a small flock of Ruddy Ducks (in winter colors.) I've never seen them before. They seem to stay well hidden behind the trees that screen the house from the water. Yesterday there were maybe five of them; sleeping in the cold (it was cold again, about 8 degrees F in the morning.) They had their tails stiffly up and their bills tucked unter their wings; but they still appeared to be swimming, not floating. (Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis.)

Another interesting thing last night was an aggregation of coots (Fulica americana) just up from the top of the Boys Dam; there were maybe fifteen of them, maybe more; they kept ducking underwater! Very quarrelsome with each other.

Also in the last few days another pair of mergansers passed through, also swimming quite close to the top of the dam. There is a lone male Goldeneye venturing close to the dam, and a large and noisy flicker came to the feeder; also a downy woodpecker. I'm pretty sure I saw a wren in the woods! The regulars -- juncos -- come to the feeder even when the weather is bad, like today. I haven't seen the nuthatch in a while. And this morning a Bluejay was sitting in the redbud tree (it has a feeder in it) making an odd chuckling noise.

Back to the Ruddy Duck -- Peterson says "Cannot walk on land." It's scientific name is Oxyura jamaicensis; the Red-tailed hawk is Buteo jamaicensis. What does Jamaica have to do with things that are red?