At dusk today a lone Goldeneye was on the pond north of the parking area for
the Poppoff Trail in Union Gap. Using my Nat Geo guide, I was fairly sure
that it most resembled the 1st winter plumage of the male Common Goldeneye.
The head was an overall brownish hue with the face patch beginning to become
visible but was smaller and not nearly as white as in breeding plumage. The
flanks were a mix of gray and white. The folded wing also lacked the
distinct white & black patterns of a breeding bird. Looking at Sibley's 1st
winter birds only confused me when I got home. The heads were too dark and
the white ring at the base of the neck escaped me if it was there. The steep
forehead he has on the Barrow's was more in tune with my observation than the
ski slope of his Common. And just for weirdness sake, the bird's left flank
was brighter than the right. Both eyes were golden though. Also on the pond
at that late hour were a dozen Wood Ducks and a couple of Pied-billed Grebes.
Earlier, on the second pond north of the parking lot, 28 Ring-necked Ducks
were scattered in two groups amongst a half dozen Wood Ducks. On Monday, I
had observed nine Ring-necked Ducks on Buchanan Lake.
On the third pond to the North, nine American Wigeon were feeding with six
Pied-billed Grebes. The water's surface appeared clear...last Friday it had
been coated with floating vegetation that 59 American Wigeon seemed to be
foraging on. I wonder if the single digit temperatures had anything to do
with the complete clearing of such a dense appearing cloak of vegetation?
Today I also had what I thought to be a weird plumaged Gadwall on the pond to
the rear of the marshy area immediately north of Buchanan Lake. This duck
had a very dark cap that completely enclosed the eye...extending from the
bill to the nape. A two tone face several shades lighter contrasted with the
breast and back. The silver tertials over the black rear end also jumped
out. Perhaps it was the angle I had, viewing down on the backlit bird from
the grassy knoll of Sarg Hubbard Park.
Maybe now that Halloween is over, the waterfowl will dump these funky
costumes and stick to some basic breeding plumages to enable us Andy wannabes
to have a little more luck with our IDs...heck even our ids (ego permitting)
would improve. It's bad enough being cold without having to be confused to
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