Muscovy Ducklings! (And Other Birds, Too.)

I actually intended to sleep in this morning, but Waukegan woke the whole house up scratching and banging her feet against the floor. Since I was then up anyway, I decided to get dressed and head out to William Land Park again – without the dog this time – to see if I could get some more bird shots. I love taking Sergeant Margie with me on walks, but sometimes he scares off the wildlife, so I went solo today.

I walked around both the middle pond and the large pond this morning. At the middle pond, the Green Heron and Great Blue Heron were back, so I got a lot of shots of them. I actually got some photos of the Green Heron catching fish which is always cool to watch. I also saw the female Belted Kingfisher again. She was high up at the top of a scraggy-looking pine tree, but I managed to get a few photos of her. I also got some photos of a squirrel and a hummingbird in the WPA Rock Garden.

At the large pond the big attraction was a Muscovy Duck with her brood of four ducklings: 3 yellow babies and one black one. While I was watching her, though, and getting photos of the babies, I was accosted by a new all-white Chinese Goose that stalked me for a while, then ran up and bit me in the stomach! Ouch! I took hold of her throat until she let go, and then I released her. Geese can’t do a whole lot of damage because they don’t have teeth, but… man!… that hard pinch hurt; and I’ll probably be a little black-and-blue. A guy walking his baby in a stroller came up and said that same goose had gotten him a few times. She’s brutal. I was wondering if she’s the “Princess” goose I watched grow up a couple of years ago. If she is, she grew up to be a major bitch! Hah! I was kind of glad I hadn’t brought Sergeant Margie with me; that goose would have scared the crap out of him.

Of the yellow ducklings, one of them had an all-pink bill and another had a little of an orange blush on the head. One of the yellow ones, too, was starting to sprout a black tail, so they should be really interesting looking when they grow up. The little black one was actually more like very dark brown with some yellow and white patches on its belly. So cute…

After getting more (and more) photos of the ducklings – I can’t resist taking photos of those little fuzzies – I kept walking around the perimeter of the pond. I got some pix of some resident Wood Ducks that were pairing off for the winter, and was surprised to hear the chatter-chatter-chatter of another Kingfisher.

I looked around and found it – a male this time – in a tree on the opposite side of the pond. He was pretty far away, but I managed to get some shots of him before he flew off chattering again. Those birds are soooo noisy!

There was also a group of juvenile Western Bluebirds around there, and a Ring-Billed Gull who was hanging around a Crow for a while… so I got a goodly amount of bird photos on my morning sojourn.

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I walked around for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.