Tag Archives: mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos)

put on your faces – earth day 2010

Today is Earth Day 2010.  For forty years this annual event has served to focus attention on issues such as conservation, pollution, climate and sustainability.  That 2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity makes this Earth Day even more important.

Every 24 hours approximately 100 species go extinct, relegated forever to the past tense.  It seems to me that every day should be Earth Day.  But since I have no interest in preaching, I thought I’d mark this event with a special edition of put on your faces.  Because it’s faces like these that we stand to lose.

Close-up of a mallard duckling (Anas platyrhynchos) (2009_06_03_021795)

Mallard duckling (Anas platyrhynchos)

Close-up of a white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) as it feeds (2009_07_18_026958_c)

White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata)

Close-up of a juvenile male blackbuck (a.k.a. Indian antelope; Antilope cervicapra) (2009_05_22_020931)

Blackbuck (a.k.a. Indian antelope; Antilope cervicapra); juvenile male

Close-up of a green heron (Butorides virescens) (2009_09_05_028705)

Green heron (Butorides virescens)

Close-up of a fox squirrel (a.k.a. eastern fox squirrel, stump-eared squirrel, raccoon squirrel or monkey-faced squirrel; Sciurus niger) (2009_09_27_029754)

Fox squirrel (a.k.a. eastern fox squirrel, stump-eared squirrel, raccoon squirrel or monkey-faced squirrel; Sciurus niger); male

Close-up of a green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) (20080817_11010_c)

Green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis); male

Close-up of a differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) (2009_10_02_029993)

Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis); male

Close-up of a male great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) (2009_10_25_034089)

Great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus); male

Close-up of a male fallow deer (Dama dama) (2009_05_22_020739)

Fallow deer (Dama dama); light morph male (buck/stag)

Crossing the road

For several hours I watched the red-shouldered hawk nest hoping Artemis would shuffle to a new position that might afford me some photographic opportunities.  She habitually settles too deep into the nest to be visible from the ground, let alone photographed, so eventually I walked away resigned to seeing only her mate as he patrolled the area, visited her, and played cat-and-mouse with the local crow ensemble.

Walking up the hill alongside the park entrance road, home visible at the edge of the open woods, I paused at the slightest bit of movement hiding in my peripheral vision.  Something lurked on the side of the road.  I knelt at the edge of the blacktop to watch.

A male and female pair of mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) wandering through grass (2010_03_14_051464)

By no means a rare encounter as mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are year-round residents, I still found myself intrigued and beguiled by what most would consider a pedestrian species.  Call me simple, but to my mind the common is as breathtaking as the once-in-a-lifetime.

I settled beneath a canopy of sunshine and watched them as they meandered toward me.  Amazing how nothing more complicated than ducks tending to their day can be such an entertaining show.

Finally she turned and started across the road.

A female mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) crossing a road (2010_03_14_051483)

He followed.

A male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) crossing a road (2010_03_14_051493)

But she reached the opposite side quickly even as he paused to inspect some shiny trinket.  And this allowed just enough room between them for a car to intersect their path.

Having seen me and having realized I was watching something around the bend that he could not see, the driver slowed as he approached.  This gave him the opportunity to stop when he realized the ducks were in the road.  Stopping, I should point out, which resulted in the automobile resting between the drake and hen.

And the drake did not like that.

A male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) with his head lowered in challenge (2010_03_14_051499)

He lowered his head and gave a brief charge coupled with a hiss.

The driver, an elderly man smiling with the energy of a star, recognized the predicament and reversed for little more than one full turn of the tires.  The distance was right.  The male responded with a quick prance across the road.

A male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) crossing a road (2010_03_14_051514)

Where he rejoined his mate.

A male and female pair of mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) crossing a road (2010_03_14_051516)

They wandered off peacefully, waddling down the opposite embankment and vanishing from sight.

I turned to the man driving the car, gave him a smile and said, “Thank you.”

His smile brightened such that I might be staring into the sun.  He waved as he replied, “My pleasure.”

Then we both went our separate ways.

Now days later as I relive those brief moments, I am reminded of the day a few years ago as I drove my parents to the airport to pick up Sharon, my aunt who was flying in from New York.  Mom sat in the back seat, my dad belted in beside me in the passenger seat, each of us giggling like school children in the face of constant levity.

On a rural road barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, bright summer sunshine pouring down just as it had on these ducks, our laughs halted as a coyote dashed across the concrete in front of us.  At speed, we would have hit it.

I braked with fervency, an act that just about threw my mother into the front seat, and we came to a stop beside the coyote.  I could have tossed a feather onto the canine’s back for its nearness.

And in that moment we looked at each other, the three of us humans and one lone coyote.  None of us moved.

Stopping.  So simple an act of kindness.

We drove away after a few moments.  In the mirror I could see the coyote where we left it, still standing in the tall grass, still watching after us as we vanished in the hazy heat of the day.

“Thank you,” I heard it say.

“My pleasure.”


After several days below freezing, I finally ventured out this morning.  Gloves did little to protect my hands from frigid temperatures, especially over the course of several hours, thus I walked away from the experience with a majority of bad photographs due to malfunctioning fingers that simply couldn’t work the camera with any reliability.

Nevertheless, I did walk away with some pictures—images that might surprise you considering they come from Dallas, Texas.  Like this one:

Male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) frozen in ice (2010_01_10_047938)

That is a mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos), a drake (male), frozen solid in White Rock Lake.  It goes without saying that I found many such scenes.  I promise I won’t share more of them.

The physics involved in freezing a lake are not as simple as you might think.  Truth be told, the process is complicated and takes time.  Yet today’s arctic stroll around the lake resulted in some fascinating scenes—and some heartwrenching scenes as well.

Though I promise I won’t show more of the latter, I will show the former in a separate post where I’ll discuss the physics and mathematics involved, as well as the various types of ice that can be seen under such circumstances.

Meanwhile, I’m spending the rest of the afternoon inside where it’s warm (though I’ll add the temperature today appears ready to climb comfortably above freezing, albeit not enough to melt away the damage already done and the wonders already created).  You can expect a more detailed post tomorrow on the state of the lake and how much work it is for nature to do what has been done.

Lest you think me shallow for the above image and nothing else, there are plenty of goodies to be seen and read in this week’s nature carnivals.

Carnival of the Blue #32 provides an ocean of seaworthy discoveries.  You’ll want to swim right over and float through the collection.

Berry Go Round #23: The Janus Edition roots its way through the season’s plant goodness.  Feel free to leaf through the offerings.

I and the Bird #116 wings its way through a world of avifauna.  Listen to Australian cicadas sing their summer songs as you flit from post to post.

Friday Ark #277 takes on boarders throughout the weekend.  Don’t let your chance wash away to visit a flood of animal delight.


nathalie with an h said repeatedly she never sees anything more exciting than ducks when she visits White Rock Lake.  Of course, one need understand she considers any creature to be a duck if it has wings and is located near water—let alone if it’s touching water.

But seeing ducks is anything but mundane, especially when this area proffers such a wide variety of these feathered beasts.

A male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) standing in green grass craning his head around to look at me (2009_03_21_013630)

A male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos).

A female mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) floating in calm water (2008_12_07_000525)

A female mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos).

Blue-winged teals (Anas discors) swimming in a marsh (2009_03_21_013790)

Blue-winged teals (Anas discors): one male and two females.

A male American wigeon (Anas americana) quickly swimming away (2009_02_01_005718)

A male American wigeon (Anas americana).

A male ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) floating at the lake on a sunny day (2009_02_22_010825)

A male ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis).

A male northern shoveler (Anas clypeata) swimming along a creek (2009_02_15_009858)

A male northern shoveler (Anas clypeata).

A male gadwall (Anas strepera) swimming leisurely on a sunny day (2009_03_08_012774)

A male gadwall (Anas strepera).

Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) swimming in a group (2009_02_15_009427)

Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola): Two males and two females.

A female lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) floating near shore (2009_02_03_006549)

A female lesser scaup (Aythya affinis).

A male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) swimming away from shore (2009_02_03_006875)

A male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis).

A female wood duck (Aix sponsa) floating in a creek at sunset (2009_02_13_008558)

A female wood duck (Aix sponsa).

A male wood duck (Aix sponsa) swimming in a creek at sunset (2009_02_13_008550)

A male wood duck (Aix sponsa).

— — — — — — — — — —


[1] I did not include photos of feral domestic populations (e.g., Muscovies, domestic Indian runners, etc.).  Neither did I include photos of the various hybrid species living here (mostly mallards crossed with various other ducks).

[2] This is but a sampling of the species found at the lake.  Indian runners, northern pintails, black-bellied whistling-ducks, ring-necked ducks, green-winged teals, canvasbacks, redheads, cinnamon teals, greater scaups and many other species can be found depending on the time of year.

[3] Most of these pictures are of drakes (male ducks).  That’s because the females of many species greatly resemble female mallards—with a few minor differences, I mean.  The northern shoveler female is smaller with a spatulate bill; the blue-winged teal female is smaller with bill color and minor plumage differences; and the list goes on.  The diversity of the species is best represented by the males given their varied displays; only the careful observer would realize the differences presented in images of many females.

[4] The title “CM DUCKS” is from this silly word game I learned many moons ago as a child.


Nature’s handiwork

One need not look beyond nature’s own doing to find beautiful things, exquisite and lovely forms so picturesque that they must be the purest variety of art ever known.

A knot clinging to the base of an ancient colossal tree (20080224_02332)

A knot clinging to the base of an ancient colossal tree.

Morning thunderstorms moving in from the west (2008_12_27_003468)

Morning thunderstorms moving in from the west.

A ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) at sunset (2009_02_13_008424)

A ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) at sunset.

An American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) landing on the water (2009_02_14_008604)

An American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) landing on the water.

A white fawnlily (a.k.a. white trout lily; Erythronium albidum) in dappled sunlight (2009_02_22_010626)

A white fawnlily (a.k.a. white trout lily; Erythronium albidum) in dappled sunlight.  (Yes, the flowers always lean down.)

Large, woolly vines grow on some of the larger trees around the lake (2009_03_07_012204)

Large, woolly mature poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) vines grow on some of the larger trees around the lake.

Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) creates its own alien landscape (2009_03_07_012194)

Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) creates its own alien landscape.

A mallard drake (Anas platyrhynchos) rests at the base of a reed bed (2008_12_25_003334)

A mallard drake (Anas platyrhynchos) rests at the base of a reed bed.