Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ruddy Ducks, Loon, Bufflehead Ducks and Coots at Round Valley Reservoir

Spoke to a man with a monoscope, waiting for a loon to come up from a dive across Round Valley Reservoir. He insisted I scope on the ruddy ducks that caught my interest. A few years ago, I went birding with a naturalist I know with New Jersey Audubon at the Round Valley Pond (about 30 acres). We saw buffleheads, green winged teal and another specie I forget, but no ruddy ducks I remember. Ruddy ducks are small and I had mistaken the large flock for the coots that are typical here. Coots were across the acreage near a distant point. A few bufflehead ducks had departed from the ruddy flock, flashing their white wing bands like strobe lights. I asked the man if ruddy ducks dive, he said no, then asked his wife in the pick up. She had a field guide and confirmed that ruddy ducks are stiff tailed ducks that dive and use that tail as a rudder. We saw none of them dive over about 15 minutes' time.

Ruddy ducks are the cutest among the whole lot. They have tails that open and spread like turkeys' and make me think of a woman's dress. And they're small and vulnerable like Cornish game hens; the species name, ruddy, makes me think of a Tomboy. Silly sentiment, but it's there.

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