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The small ponds that dot the Prairies at this time of the year each hold the chance of a surprise with regards to birds. With the migrations back to the north starting to pass through, swans, cranes and geese can be found at any bog, pool of meltwater or more stable body of water. The waterfowl which will summer here are returning as well so ducks of all stripes and sizes are looking for water to nest alongside.
It was in one of these shallow ponds in between Bragg Creek and Calgary that I found a paddle of ducks comprised of Mallards, several Barrow’s Goldeneye and one lone Hooded Merganser. It has been a while since I have seen one of these ducks and with this one, I was reminded how interesting they are. The fan-shaped crest with its white patch is very conspicuous. With his crest extended, this Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) seemed to strut around the pond as it swum between two female Goldeneyes.
When some Canada geese landed in the water nearby and started a racket with their honking, most of the ducks took flight, as seen below and in the lead photograph, for a less active spot.
It’s a great time of the year as spring starts to win its fight with winter and the birds come back to the Prairies. I really enjoyed spending time with these ducks.
A female Mallard duck stretches out of the water to shake the water off of her wings. My friend Jeff (his photography website) and I were down at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary that is in the middle of Calgary on one side of the Bow River to photograph the birds that overwinter there. There are hundreds of Canada Geese and Mallards on the water at any time. The Sanctuary is a great place to watch their natural behaviour with very few disturbances.
This duck was out for an early swim across the water from Kelowna. Me and the bird were the only creatures moving around near the shore at that time. The ospreys, eagles, grebes, loons and a muskrat stirred soon after. But, for a few minutes, this one duck was sole proprietor of the inlet.
There is a small pond just across the road from the firehall in Redwood Meadows. Spring is when wildlife is most active in this stretch of water.
It regularly overflows its northern edge at that time of the year and then fills up a much larger area, not even close to a lake but it becomes a much larger pool. This year has had a fair bit of rain so the pond has stayed beyond its borders for the summer so far. The other evening, the light was really rich and warm. With the hot temperatures, it was a draw for the animals. I was happy to watch them for a few minutes.