[midvalleybirds] Duck's memories
fhkolwicz1 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 12 18:48:15 PST 2019
I've been observing and photographing winter ducks at a private pond
north of Baskett Slough for about 4 years and have gotten to wondering
about them, especially Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers: do they return
to the same wintering spots and do they remember activities/sights in
those places as dangerous or not? There is waterfowl hunting on at least
one adjacent property.
Prior to this opportunity, I had developed the impression (not data)
that both species are very hard to get into photographic range (under
100 feet, +/-) and that they will fly or flee out of sight and not come
back, as soon as I discover them.
Using my car as a blind, with or without additional camouflage, during
the first winter I spent lots of time there, the birds slowly became
accustomed to my presence and ventured to within about 50' while
foraging and loafing/sleeping. During the last 2 subsequent winters I've
noticed that the birds are still quite comfortable with me in my car at
close distances and didn't panic when I stepped out, either, they just
swam away slowly or hid in the brush.
Could it be that these are some of the same birds I've seen before and
they remember this site and my presence as un-threatening?
Today, I was in my preferred spot at the narrow end of the pond where
there are nice reflections and the birds can come close as they forage:
it's the first time I've been in that spot since the Hooded Mergansers
first showed up some time last week (no Wood Ducks around, although
they've done the same thing in past years). I'd parked elsewhere,
further from the water, some hundreds of feet away from this spot, but
in full view, for about an hour, earlier. Within 15 minutes the Hoodies,
about 10 of them, swam south to my spot and checked me out, that is,
they didn't feed or hide or rest, just swam by or floated still and
seemed to watch me as I photographed them. Neither the camera shutter
nor the lens movement disturbed them and I got some nice images.
Are they remembering me/this spot as good feeding (frogs and fish) and safe?
Inquiring minds, you know,
More information about the birding