Sunday, December 10, 2006

checking out the local wildlife

Robb and I are city dwellers, but we are lucky enough to live near Lake Merritt, which is a tidal estuary, and major over-wintering spot for migratory waterfowl. I hadn't taken the new camera down to the lake, until today. This is one of my favorite local birds, a Black-Crowned Night Heron. I love these huge, grumpy-looking fellows.

This is a female Scaup. Hundreds and hundreds of Scaups spend the winter on the lake. We really cannot tell the Greater and Lesser Scaups apart.

An Eared Grebe and an American Coot. Robb and I affectionately call these grebes "muffin butts." They puff up their "petticoats" just before they dive. We also joke that all we have to do to see a grebe dive out of sight, is to say the word "grebe."

This Snowy Egret was shuffling around the edges of the lake, trying to stir up food with its bright yellow feet.

When Robb and I worked as volunteers for the International Bird Rescue Research Center, one of the projects that we participated in was a study of the genetic purity of Mallards and Wood Ducks. We see a lot of freaky duck and goose hybrids at the lake. Clearly, these two have Mallards in their family tree, but which parent passed on the hairdo gene?

Of course, we have the more typically "urban" wildlife. I love the reddish orange of our local squirrels.

And then, there are the perfect urban scavengers.

We are so fortunate to live so close to all these creatures. Even on low-energy days, Robb and I can experience nature.


jackbear said...

How I do love the bird posts. Thanks for the great pics....what crazy hybrid mallards...strange...

Anonymous said...

Hey you two-

The duck with the freaky feathered hairdo is actually a stuffed chew toy that my cat got to, and chewed open it's head. No, really. I've actually seen some versions of fancy chickens at the state fair with heads like that, but I dont know what they are called, other than "snowy-headed somethings"


Anonymous said...

I love the duck-do! Looks like ear muffs to me.

Mama Bear

funhog said...

Having never seen a mallard with wild hair, I had to do some poking around. Have a look here:
Thanks for the turn on.


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