Posts Tagged 'hybrid Mallard'

Stanley Park: October 25th 2010

After spending the weekend studying for a midterm I had on Monday I knew I needed to get out for a bit of birding as soon as my exam was over. The weather wasn’t particularly good on Monday but I opted to turn this to my advantage by heading to Stanley Park where I expected the rain and wind to keep most people indoors; allowing me to have a quiet and relaxing outing at a great location for some fall birding.

I started off at the pond in Devonian Harbour Park just east of Lost Lagoon were I had some smashing views of a Belted Kingfisher preening itself on a log. American Widgeon, Mallard, and a lone American Coot were present as well; three species that I would see plenty of during the rest of my walk.

At the northeast corner of the lagoon I had distant views of a Ring-necked Duck along with some excellent looks at a couple of Bushtits; a number of which were no more than an arms length away in a small tree. As I continued to circle the lagoon in a counter clockwise direction I came upon this interesting Mallard, or rather it came upon me in an attempt to beg for some food.

According to this post on the Birding in BC forums the duck has been identified as a domestic duck x Mallard hybrid with the petite Call Duck breed contributing some of those domestic genes. This particular duck is certainly smaller than your average Mallard.

Shortly after I had had my fill of the interesting Mallard hybrid a group of Northwestern Crows drew my attention towards the top of a conifer where they were actively involved in mobbing a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. The raptor didn’t sit still for more than a minute before the constant dive-bombing and cawing of the crows forced him skyward. In the same vicinity a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Chestnut-backed, and Black-capped Chickadees were foraging; none of them appeared to be phased by the rain which had, by now, soaked the lenses of both my glasses and binoculars and was slowly seeping through my rain jacket.

The area surrounding the stone bridge located at the lagoons west end was quieter than usual; only a couple of Mallards and American Widgeons were out and about, the rest were huddled along the banks napping or preening.

From here I walked out to the seawall at Second Beach where the tide was in and not much was going on other than a couple of gulls careening about in the winds. I noticed that one of those birds, a first cycle Glaucous-winged Gull, had a candy wrapper in its bill. The bird positioned himself upwind of me where it released the wrapper which flew towards me and smacked into my arm. Perhaps this gull was trying to communicate its disdain for humanities propensity to pollute the environment by throwing this piece of garbage back at the first person it could find. Or maybe it was just angry that the wrapper was empty and he wanted me to fill it with some candy.

Along the southern shore of Lost Lagoon the usual assortment of ducks and gulls along with a couple of Canada Geese were present. A juvenile Snow Goose was also hanging about on the grass nearby; possibly the same bird I sighted here on the 10th of October.

Despite the rain and the wind I had a pleasant time out; there was still plenty of activity, considering the poor weather, and the place was practically deserted of people!

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Stanley Park: March 6th 2010

I decided to stop by Stanley Park on my way home from school this past Friday to kick off the weekend with a bit of birding. Coming straight from school meant that all I had to take pictures with was my cell phone so the pictures are somewhat lacking in quality. I started off at Lost Lagoon and made my way over to Second Beach before finishing up at Beaver Lake.

The marsh impoundment at the north east corner of Lost Lagoon held two singing Song Sparrows as well as an Anna’s Hummingbird who gathered some fluff from a cattail before buzzing off. The fluff will most likely be used as part of it’s nest (1).

Large numbers of Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, and Dark-eyed Junco were feeding off of the seeds and crumbs people had dropped near the stone bride at the western end of the lagoon. A few Fox Sparrows and a single Golden-crowned Sparrow were interspersed within the larger flock.

Out on the Lagoon was a large flock of Lesser Scaup, several Common Merganser, and a single female Canvasback among the other, more regular, birds.

Over at Beaver Lake this Mallard hybrid came looking for a handout when I stopped for a break. Anyone care to venture a guess at who the non-Mallard parent might be?

Soon after the hybrid Mallard stopped by, a pair of Wood Ducks made an appearance. Such a striking duck is hard to miss and even non-birders can’t help but want to take its picture. Unfortunately our affinity for the species may have once threatened its existence. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries hunters decimated the population and it took nearly 70 years to recover (2). Today, the species still comprises 10% of all ducks shot by hunters; it is second only to the Mallard in terms of numbers killed (3).

Despite the abundance of people and their dogs, Stanley Park is still a top notch birding destination; a veritable oasis within the urban desert of the city.

References:

  1. Russell, Stephen M. 1996. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/226doi:10.2173/bna.226
  2. Hepp, Gary R. and Frank C. Bellrose. 1995. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/169doi:10.2173/bna.169
  3. Bellrose, F. C. and D. J. Holm. 1994. Ecology and management of the Wood Duck. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.