WooHoo … the Ducks are Here!

D-Day (“Duck Day”) is finally here … the annual fall migration has begun and the first of the ducks have arrived in west-central Missouri. Located along the Mississippi flyway, we see many different species of ducks/geese during the spring and fall migrations. Over the past 2 days, I have been out in the kayak, watching for the first of the migrants to arrive. Two days ago, I observed the first arriving ducks to our area:

Green-winged Teal flying in

This group consists of Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca), along with a lone Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) seen at the top and towards the left of the above image. (Unfortunately, this group did not land … just “buzzed” the area several times, then flew off. I stopped at the other, nearby conservation area on the way home and found this group enjoying a small lake there). In addition to these species, Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) numbers have risen sharply over the past week or so. We have resident Wood Duck populations here, but the numbers sharply increase during the spring and fall migrations. The following image contains a Wood Duck pair, resting in a tree that leans out over the water (can you spot the hen? Look to the left of the drake and you will see the trademarked white eye spot of the hen, peaking out from behind a limb):

Wood Duck pair in tree

And during yesterday’s kayak outing, I paddled Rubber Ducky into a patch of wilting, American Lotus plants for cover. Within 30 minutes, the Woodies began flying into the area and landing all around me. A short time later, this drake swam out in front of me, dodging the Lotus plant stalks:

Wood Duck drake in fall colors

The above image illustrates one of the main reasons why I love shooting from the kayak … you sit so low in the water that it gives a feeling of being a part of the landscape. Today, I’m heading back out as I continue to work on capturing in-flight images of the ducks. That post will likely be tomorrow. Until then, I’m celebrating the arrival of the fall ducks … with a big “WooHoo”!

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