Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Duck update for Lake Murray
The ducks are molting! Now, I can't tell the difference between the ducklings and the adults as they are all molting and most of them are the same colors! There are a few, mostly the younger ducklings, that you can still tell that they're ducklings, but most of the older ones you can't tell how old they are. All the surviving ducklings that I know of at Lake Murray are 8 to 16 weeks old (there are a few broods that would be about five to six weeks old, but I haven't seen them lately. Even they would blend in well.). The 8 week olds and younger are still easy to pick out, but anything older, especially flying ducklings, are more difficult. Adult males are entering the "Eclipse" phase where they look like juveniles or large females. This is good, it allows the ducklings born over the summer to stay out of the mating frenzy and keeps them from being mated too soon.
Update on the injured duckling/duck
I went over and tried to find the injured duck that I saw last Sunday. I did find one duck with an unusable leg on the shore. He was standing on one leg, preening himself and seemed OK except for that one leg. He let me get really close before he stumbled into the water and swam away. He looked like an older duckling, but may actually be an older adult duck named "Sir Francis Drake" entering his Eclipse phase. Sir Francis also had a hurt left leg and recently was caught and a wire removed from his leg. He seemed pretty OK otherwise.
Perhaps the injured duckling is actually a molting adult male. However, the duck I saw on Sunday was really bad off and couldn't stand on either leg. Plus, he couldn't fly. Sir Francis Drake can fly, but he may not have been able to do that during the molt. But, I think Sir Francis has a bright yellow bill and this duck has a green bill with a little blue and orange showing up. As far as I know, only young ducks have a green bill. I will have to do some research on this.
In any case, I didn't see any other injured ducks today.
George and Martha were not seen or heard today. There were 4 pairs of killdeer in one ballfield plus Mary. I think there might have been a few more in the other ballfields, but it may have been the killdeer shifting around because the starlings were flying from field to field being bullies. I thought I heard the M6 dad or his chick calling. At 4.5 weeks old, the chicks should have a voice almost as loud as an adult.
A turkey vulture, probably looking for dead animals/ducks or live chicks.
And, a mottled black and white duck. I think this duck was part Indian runner. Maybe the other part was related to the Muscovy duck in the area.