Monday, October 20, 2014

Two New Birds

American Wigeon
It's been a while since Roger and I saw some birds that we couldn't identify right away. The marsh attracts lots of dabbling ducks. The ponds are full of common sights like the (above) American Wigeon, American Coot, and Mallards. We think we've seen a few Wood Ducks, but the cattails are always very tall around the ponds, which makes sight and photography nearly impossible.
Green-winged Teal
So, we were pretty happy to come across these two beauties the other day at the marsh. We noticed a few ducks in lapping low tide on the bay side of the marsh. The sun was bright, they were backlit and hard to really identify. I took a few pics because I thought I noticed a lovely brown head on the male, a color we hadn't seen before. We watched three females scoot along right on the muddy flats with their bills in the mud, looking for food. They made a great sound in their pursuits. I couldn't wait to get home to see who these two were. Our first Green-winged Teal!
Northern Pintail
We've added a a new trail to our walk that leads to other ponds and extends our walk by a mile. The new ponds have interesting ducks as well. The above photo isn't great (the bird was quite far away), but it's the first Northern Pintail we've ever seen. The Teal and Pintail are not rare birds, but seeing a new bird for the first time is always such a treat. Makes us want to head out everyday to see what new critter we might come across.

Here's a map of the marsh. It'll give you some idea of where we've been out walking.


  1. Unfortunately, perhaps, I've reached that point in my birdwatching when I rarely encounter a new species in my home area. But I well remember the excitement when I used to be able to go to new areas, just a few miles down the road, and see brand new birds. American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal turn up on this side of the Atlantic occasionally and cause a bit of a stir. Pintails come in reasonable numbers every winter - such an elegant bird.

  2. Your lucky, all we ever see are Mallards

  3. That is so cool! Of course, as inland as I am, I won't get the variety of birds as you do along the coast. But I went to a slideshow of birds photographed at a bog I visit often and all the yellow-ish warblers looked alike to me, but apparently they were different species. So I could look at a new-to-me bird and not realize it was a new species!
    What a wonderful place to be able to walk. I suspect you'll see more new species as the year goes on.

  4. It must really be nice to be able to walk in areas like that. Up here on the mountain, of course, we don't see any waterfowl. We do occasionally see Canadian geese wandering around a lake we pass on the way to the grocery store, but that's about it.

  5. John-- It is always such a thrill to see a bird for the first time. I still remember the first time I saw a bald eagle. That's when I fell in love with birds.

    Bill-- I hope that you see some other dabbling ducks someday. It is pretty exciting when something new shows up.

    CCorax-- Some warblers are so hard to tell apart from other warblers. There are so many species and most of them seem to have yellowish tint. How cool that you have new-to-you bird species to look for!

    Mark-- We do like seeing these dabbling ducks. There are so many of them, it is a pretty beautiful sight. I wonder what birds are native to your neck of the woods. There are some cool bird websites that map sightings of interesting birds.

  6. Nice, Robin Andrea and Roger. It's always great to see a new bird for the first time. I often get excited when I think I see a bird for the first time, only to consult my life-list back a home and find that I saw the species years earlier at a different location. Since I'm getting old and can't remember things any more, Kali always says, "New-to-you, Scott!"

    We get Green-winged Teals and Pintails regularly along the Atlantic Coast in the winter, but the teals only occasionally stop at inland ponds, and I've never seen the Pintails inland.

    Who maintains the pond complex where you walk?

  7. Scott-- We don't keep a list, but we probably should. It's an interesting thing, getting older, because it's true that we forget and so things become "new to us" again. Here's a link to the Arcata Marsh website. It's the City of Arcata's wastewater treatment facility. It's quite innovative. When we lived here for a few months in 2008, we used to call the place the poo-poo ponds.

  8. I see your biking birder didn't get you going on a list. I am so impressed when people are able to identify different birds. They have to be pretty drastically different for me to identify. I am kind of like C Corax in that respect but it doesn't stop me from enjoying and getting excited when I see something very different.
    That looks like a really great place to walk.

  9. I was visiting a friend a few days ago and heard a quail for the first time in many years. I used to hear them all the time in my teens; the house I lived in was next to a 14 acre field that was part grassland and part woods and they thrived there. It was such a shock to realize how long it had been since I heard one!

    Thanks for taking me on a walk with you! The less I can the more I miss it!


  10. Wonderful to see how many places you and roger are finding for your walks in and around Arcata. I treasure your glimpses.

  11. It's always exciting seeing new to you wildlife. I like trying to identify the many different types of water foul that we see up here.

  12. Arkansas Patti-- Nope! Bike birder didn't get us into keeping a list. We are such lazy bums! I often go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to look for bird IDs. Here's a link. They have a good size and shape link for IDs:

    alan-- How wonderful that you heard a quail after all this time. I'm glad you liked taking this virtual walk with us!

    am-- Everyday we say to each other how much we love it here.

    Dave-- We're so happy to be seeing new birds here. It's easier on the nerves than looking out in the early morning to see if there are packs of coyotes, mountain lions, or bears! Dabbling ducks are so safe to be around.

  13. I love the marsh. And the ducks. Nice photographs.

  14. NCmountainwoman-- Glad you like the marsh, the ducks, and the pics!