Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Mornings at the Marsh – part 1

March heralds the migration of waterfowl from their wintering grounds; they often stop in our local wetlands to feed and rest. Some stay to nest, but most resume their journey to distant breeding grounds.

The prospect of photographing waterfowl, including some species that are only in northcentral Pennsylvania for a few days or weeks each year prompted me to spend a few mornings at several local wetlands. Off I went, dressed in camouflage from head to foot (including a facemask) with snacks and a thermos of hot coffee in the pack and a lightweight folding chair strapped to the pack – oh yes, and my camera with its long telephoto lens.

One morning the destination was a large man-made wetland with a lot of open water and a shrub wetland along its shallow border. I chose to sit beneath a pin oak with a multitude of low drooping branches that was behind an opening in that shrub wetland. It wasn’t long before a few green-winged teal swam along, presenting an opportunity for a few photos –













The teal headed off, out of sight behind a dense growth of shrubs and I sat munching on some orange slices and a few pretzels along with a cup of coffee from the thermos. After about 45 minutes a group of American wigeon descended to the far side of the open water –

After a while they gradually swam closer, especially two males that still hadn’t fully acquired the green stripe on the side of the head that's typical of their breeding plumage –

While I was watching the wigeon a small flock of pintails swam into view; pintails are one of the most nervous waterfowl and I’ve seldom gotten good photos of them – but the males are also one of the most dapper of ducks –























The final ducks of the morning were ring-necked ducks which breed on small ponds in boreal forests of Canada and the most northern states. The reason why they were named for the almost invisible brown band on the males’ necks when they could be called ring-billed ducks for the  obvious white ring on the beaks of both sexes has always been beyond my understanding. The ring-necked ducks swam right up to the gap in the shrubs and proceeded to spend quite some time diving and feeding –

Next week we’ll visit a portion of a much larger natural wetland: one that's part cattail marsh, part emergent vegetation and part shrub wetland.


  1. What a great selection of birds, and that is my kind of day. I enjoy sitting and waiting for birds to come to me. Love the Ring-billed Duck. I only see these during the winter months here in the UK, and not very often. Have a great weekend.

  2. Nice sighting and a great variety of ducks. Beautiful photos.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

  3. Beautiful ducks. Thanks for sharing your outing with us.


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