For the Birds: Ice sends the ducks south

Photo by Chris Bosak
Red-breasted mergansers may be seen throughout winter on the ocean or Long Island Sound.

There are always two ways to look at something.

I don’t remember what it was advertising, but I recall an old television commercial wherein one guy says: “Camping? I hate camping. There’s nobody around.”

The next guy on camera, within the same friend group of the first guy but unaware of what he said, says: “Camping? I love camping. There’s nobody around.”

I guess it all depends on your personal preferences and motives.

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Good news on the duck front; populations and habitat improve


Photo by Chris Bosak American Wigeon in Norwalk.

Photo by Chris Bosak
American Wigeon in Norwalk.

As much as I love all birds, ducks are my favorite types of birds to watch. I’ve said that plenty of times. So when good news from that front crosses my desk, I’m eager to share it.

Here it is, shamelessly stolen from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release sent to my at my office:

“Duck populations have increased in overall abundance over last year, and their habitat conditions have improved, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Trends in Duck Breeding Populations 2014 report released today. These conclusions are based on the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Surve Continue reading

Some ducks still hanging on in southern New England

Photo by Chris Bosak Greater Scaup in Norwalk Harbor, March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Greater Scaup in Norwalk Harbor, late March 2014.

April, for me anyway, is a bittersweet month for birdwatching. I love watching ducks, so the period from when the “winter ducks” arrive in fall to the time they depart in the spring is perhaps my favorite time of year for birdwatching. Well, that time in spring is approaching. The ducks _ other than mallards and a few others _ will soon depart southern New England for their breeding grounds up north.

The flip side of that, of course, is that the songbirds, shorebirds, birds of prey and other spring migrants will be here soon (if they haven’t arrived already.)

I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer ducks at my normal haunting grounds over the last week or so. Remember my post last week when a Redhead shared a pond with Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks and Wood Ducks? Well, that pond is now vacant. No winter ducks or any other ducks for that matter. I’m sure the mallards and hopefully some Wood Ducks will return. But the other ducks will likely not be seen there for another seven or eight months.

Long Island Sound and its harbors are slowing down, too, but not shutting down. I saw a few Long-tailed Ducks, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Mergansers and Greater Scaup on a recent visit to Norwalk Harbor _ but not in the numbers that I saw them just a few weeks ago. In a few more weeks, only a few straglers will be left _ until next fall, that is.

Eurasian Wigeon video

Here’s a short video of a Eurasian Wigeon I saw at the Mill Pond in East Norwalk, Conn., on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.

Eurasian Wigeon, as the name suggests, are not native to the U.S., but they occasionally show up in flocks of American Wigeon, as was the case here.

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Hooded Mergansers all over

Photo by Chris Bosak A male Hooded Merganser in Holly Pond in Stamford, CT, Nov. 2013.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male Hooded Merganser in Holly Pond in Stamford, CT, Nov. 2013.

Hooded Mergansers are usually found in large numbers here in southern New England, but this fall seems to be particularly good for “hoodies.” Hooded Mergansers, which have long been one of my favorite birds, are found on both fresh and brackish water. They eat a variety of small prey, mostly fish, they obtain by Continue reading