My final birding trip of 2016 was to Haddon Lake Park, my original birding “hotspot”. I usually walk with my mom and sister at Historic Smithville Park, but if we ever have extra time we head down to Haddon Lake instead to visit the waterfowl. It was a nice way to end the year, because we attended a party of sorts while we were there.
It all started with spotting an unusual duck. As I mentioned in my last post, ducks often hybridize, so there’s an assortment of ducks in addition to Mallards at Haddon Lake. The duck in the middle of the picture below has features of both a Mallard and one of the white ducks that reside at the lake. We stopped to take a look a him. He was swimming by with a few friends and when they noticed we stopped they got out of the water and started walking towards us.
So there we were, the 3 of us and a small group of ducks. We were admiring how cute they were when we realized that more ducks were coming over to where we were standing. It started to get noisy with females quacking and males giving their little raspy quehp calls (When you hear a duck “quack” you are actually hearing the females; male’s don’t quack, they just quehp).
And before you know it, that’s when the party started. As you know, Mallards don’t tend to party alone, they like to hang out in flocks. So within a minutes time we went from a small gathering to a full out Mallard Party (with the hybrids being the special guests) with the entire flock flying in from all sides of the lake.
Even Pretty Lady Duck, a lighter female, who I blogged about a few months ago made an appearance. I was happy to see her.
Now let’s be real for a quick second. We all know what they wanted: food. Unfortunately, people feed these ducks, so they expect a handout when visitors stop to look at them. (We interrupt this lighthearted duck story with an important PSA: please DO NOT feed waterfowl. It’s bad for their health, the surrounding area, and encourages unwanted behaviors. Thank you. And now back to our regularly scheduled story). Of course we didn’t have food for them, but it was cool to get to see them up close.
The party last for a few minutes. We giggled and observed them while they quacked and observed us. A Mallard party tends to be a little chaotic though, with lots of quacking, running, and even a small fight breaking out. They then realized that we weren’t going to feed them, so the ducks started making their way back to the water.
We said are goodbyes and continued to walk the loop. But it seemed like the Mallards weren’t ready to say goodbye just yet. For about a minute or two, the flock decided to swim next to us. It was like we were the leaders of the Duck Parade.
We eventually lost them, but the moment was fun while it lasted. During the walk we also observed some Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Blue Jay, and a Red-tailed Hawk. But I though having a Mallard Party was a fitting way to celebrate the end of another birding year. I look forward to the fascinating birding adventures that await in 2017. Happy New Year, friends. See you in 2017!