Monday, January 9, 2012

In Search of the Falcated Duck

The birding community of Northern California has been all abuzz about  the Falcated Duck seen at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.  Birders and bird photographers have been coming from all over California and beyond to view this Eurasian bird, native to China, who somehow found his way to California.
Sutter Buttes
Colusa NWR is less than 60 miles from our home, the other side of Sutter Buttes which I have photographed from my back yard.  Close enough that there was no reason not to go and see for ourselves.
It is so close and so popular with birders that we met others from Lincoln Hills by chance and one of them, Jack Ferrante took a picture of Hubby and me as we photographed a huge flock of geese.
White Fronted Geese
 Geese certainly weren't the only birds we saw, there was an amazing variety of waterfowl.

Gadwall drake
Pied-billed Grebe
Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler transitioning from eclipse to breeding plumage









The birds were by no means limited to aquatic species.  We saw raptors as well.  This Red Tailed Hawk was perched in a tree.







Nearby was this bird which I believe is a Peregrine Falcon.  If I am wrong about this, please let me know.  It is a first for me and I want to be sure.

There were also the usual suspects, lots of coots, a blue heron and another rookery of Black Crowned Night Herons similar to what we saw at Merced NWR.

So, you're wondering, did we see the Falcated Duck?





Yes!
I must say, he was rather uncooperative and I wasn't happy with the images I got.  When we first arrived the light was good but he was napping with his friends, some American Wigeons, on a log, his head tucked in.  I missed when he jumped off the log to go feed, when I saw him again he was so far away I had to crop the image tightly.  Later he came back to the log to preen, great poses but by then the light was low, his front in shadow.
What does "falcated" mean, you might ask.  Well, it refers to those curved, tapered wing feathers, he is one fancy duck.

We hope to return for another try but first we have an appointment with some Sandhill Cranes at a different refuge in the opposite direction.

See more of our world at Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.
See more birds at World Bird Wednesday, hosted by Springman

If you are wondering where this refuge is, it's here.

35 comments:

Jeannelle said...

Great shots! Was happy to see photos of the falcated duck as I had just read an article about them in yesterday's newspaper.

Carole DeAngeli said...

In case you don't read her blog, here's a link to Marilyn Kirkus' blog. She is volunteering at Colusa NWR and has been busy showing all the visitors the falcated duck: http://mkircus2.blogspot.com/

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I couldn't read through the post fast enough to see if you saw him or not. What a tease! I'm glad you did get him. Boy, that viewing platform was packed when I was there. And that was mid-week too. I guess all the excitement has cooled down. What refuge are the Sandhill cranes at? Good photos which I hope you post on WBW.

Sylvia K said...

Such a beautiful place and gorgeous birds, Martha! Looks like you had a great day weather wise, too! Interesting about the bird from China -- can't help but wonder how he got here??? Does he know something we don't???? Hope you had a great weekend and wonderful week ahead!

Sylvia

Diane AZ said...

Looks like you two had a fun time! The falcated duck is pretty, but I also like the drake, the grebe and my favorite is the cinnamon teal. Great pictures!

Ms. Becky said...

I'm loving that Cinnamon Teal. wow. all the photos are amazing. and I've learned a new bird today - the Falcated Duck. what an adventure. all of your shots are amazing. happy day to you Martha.

Gaelyn said...

So many birds! The ducks so colorful and the geese probably deafening. And that falcated duck is SO fancy. Wonder how it got to CA.

Linda Reeder said...

Oh, once again I have bird envy! What a great birding location. and that Falcated duck - what a beauty!

Barb said...

A bird bonanza - even an Asian visitor. I'd say if you're a birder, that's the place to go!

Dianne said...

That is very special and how fortunate that you live nearby - I love the green markings around the neck - very unique. The cinnamon teal duck is so true to its name. It was well worth the trip and thank you for sharing them with us.

Carver said...

That's great that you were able to find and photograph the falcated duck. You also got a great variety of shots of other birds.

Antonette said...

Gorgeous shots! I hope that bird has his VISA! Ha!

Gary said...

Great sequence!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Judy said...

That sure is a fancy duck!!

eileeninmd said...

Gorgeous birds and great sightings. Congrats on your Falcated Duck, it is a beauty! Awesome photos.

Robert Geiss said...

How wonderful a sight. Thank you for this peacefulness.


daily athens photo

bettyl said...

Birds are such delightful creatures! Thanks for sharing shots we will never get ourselves.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful shots of birds. I am glad you also got some shots of the duck.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I'm glad you found your duck. I'm also amazed that you know your way around all the other waterfowl you saw there. That is very impressive.

aka Penelope said...

The falcated duck definitely stands out among the rest. Wonder how distant its travels were to actually get to where you found it. Birds go through such tremendous challenges seeking better climate/feeding conditions yet they still manage to look beautiful in the end. :)

Sallie (FullTiime-Life) said...

Wow! Wow! and Wow! Looks like two lifers for you there and beautiful beautiful sightings of those and all the other beautiful birds (I'd take the usual suspects too with pleasure!). Thanks for sharing, say hi to the sandhills too.

heyBJK said...

Congrats on the Falcated Duck! I love the shot of the Cinnamon Duck! And, of course, the raptors.

Andrew said...

Lovely images of a beautiful little bird..

mick said...

Great photos. There were a lot of birds to see there. I'm glad you saw and photographed the special duck.

Modesto Viegas said...

Great series!!!

Larry said...

Super photos of all the birds Martha! Your raptor is indeed a Peregrine Falcon! I didn't know there was one there at Colusa. That's a great shot of you and hubby on the platform. I missed the Falcated Duck when I went but I have the photo blind reserved for this weekend which is just South of the platform and out a couple hundred yards. I am really hoping to see it this time. Sometimes it's right near the platform and sometimes it's nowhere to be found.

holdingmoments said...

He certainly is one beauty of a duck.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The ducks all beautiful and yet I had my eye on the gorgeous dark morphed Red-tailed Hawk and the stunning Peregrine Falcon... wonderful!

joo said...

Love them all, but the Cinnamon Teal is simply awesome!

Springman said...

First off, I am with Joo. The Cinnamon teal is way over the top, great bird. I don't know how you could wish for a better day of birding especially when your hearts desire was granted.
A powerful group of birds here and excellent photographs.
Cheers!

Ann said...

Do you remember the Ship Rena that went aground in our water three months ago? It has split into two, almost sunk completely and littering the sea and beach with containers and food stuff.

Janie said...

Very nice photos of all the birds! Love the falcon. And I'm glad you were able to see the falcated duck.

Leovi said...

Beautiful photos in this beautiful place with so many birds. The second is impressive.

Paulie said...

And I thought my first post on my new blog had lots of birds. . . WOW to your catch ! How neat to have a photo of you two out taking photos by another photographer! Great catch! I noticed the benches also!

Come by and visit my flock on my new blog. It has been up since yesterday but I am still working on getting my links posted so I can visit people with more ease.

Arija said...

What a great number of splendid waterfowl all in one day and some raptors as a bonus and all closer than we are to the city.
That cinnamon duck really is something!