An Early Spring Gathering of “Ducks” in Central Ohio

Yesterday, with our son in town for a visit, we decided to take advantage of his good eyes and go birding. He was more than happy to accommodate us. Rather than one of our usual long walks, this time we took the car. Our destinations included the Scioto river below Griggs Dam, Griggs Reservoir along Griggs Reservoir Park, the very northern end of the reservoir the Kiwanis Riverway Park Area which is part of Griggs Reservoir Nature Preserve, and Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

In terms of numbers of birds, the reservoir was the most productive. However, we did see a beaver along with some birds that included Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers and Nuthatches, below Griggs Dam. Glacier Ridge was also productive with views of Red tail Hawks (light and dark morphs), Flickers, Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, Northern Tree Sparrows and Meadowlarks.

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Bluebird, Glacier Ridge Metro Park

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Bluebirds, Glacier Ridge Metro Park, study 2 (Donna)

Bluebird facing away 031514 Glacier Ridge cp1

Bluebirds, Glacier Ridge Metro Park, study 3 (Donna)

Northern Flicker 031514 Glacier Ridge cp1

Northern Flicker, Glacier Ridge Metro Park (Donna)

But now back to Griggs Reservoir where we managed to see, Hooded and Common Mergansers, Greater and Lesser Scaups, Buffleheads, Redhead Ducks, Horned Grebes, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Canvasbacks, Mallards, American Coots, Ringed bill Gulls, Canada Geese, Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants.

As we drove along the reservoir, stopping periodically to look around, all the waterfowl were about a quarter of a mile away along the opposite shore. Our first exciting find was a Horned Grebe. A bird not often seen in this area. It was was far enough away to be at the limit of our binocular’s reach. A spotting scope would have been the best tool to verify the bird’s ID but I decided to put my Canon SX40 at full zoom, use a low ISO, support the camera against a tree as best I could, and snap away. It was “Data acquisition” in the hopes of confirming the bird ID’s later. These were not going to be National Geographic quality photos! The below “data strips”, cropped but full frame width photos, contained the information.

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data strip, Horned Grebe, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Horned Grebe, study 1

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Horned Grebe, study 2

We drove on to the very northern end of the reservoir and again the situation was the same and again I used the camera to collect data for later review. What was really exciting at this last stop was that we thought we could make out several Canvasbacks. Would the images in the camera provide verification? Below are the results:

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data strip, Canvasback, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Male Canvasback?

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data strip, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Greater Scaup

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Lesser Scaup

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data strip, Common Mergansers, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Male Common Merganser

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Female Common Merganser

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data strip, female Canvasback, Greater Scaup, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Female Canvasback?

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Male and Female Greater Scaups

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data strip, Male Canvasback, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Male Canvasback on left

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data strip, Red Heads, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Male and Female Red Head Ducks

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data strip, Great Blue Heron, Common Mergansers, Greater Scaup, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Greater Scaup

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Female Merganser

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Great Blue Heron, do you see it on the data strip?

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data strip, Lesser Scaup, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Greater Scaups, male and female

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data strip, Buffleheads, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Bufflehead

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data strip, Ring-necked Ducks, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Ring-necked Ducks

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Ring-necked Ducks

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data strip, Goldeneye, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Common Goldeneye

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data strip, male Canvasback and Red Head Ducks, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Male Canvasback (behind)

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Redhead Duck

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data srip, Greater and Lesser Scaups, Canon SX40, full optical zoom, full width of image

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Greater Scaup

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Lesser Scaup

Based on the above results, it appears that a super-zoom digital camera can be a useful tool to aid in bird identification.

Finally, in celebration of spring, below is a just emerging Skunk Cabbage at Kiwanis Riverway Park. A rather attractive plant but as you might guess by the name not processing the sweetest fragrance.

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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Skunk Cabbage showing some interior structure, Kiwanis Riverway Park (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

7 Comments on “An Early Spring Gathering of “Ducks” in Central Ohio

  1. When I see a bird that I think may be a new species for me, I don’t even try to ID it then, I shoot photos, then work on the identification at home where I can compare my photos to the bird guides.

    • Excellent point, we don’t try real hard either if we have a suitable camera with us. The digital camera is a wonderful tool for those of us who love to explore nature.

  2. Bob & Donna,
    Excellent photos of ducks, esp. Greater and Lesser Scaups (which is difficult for me to distinguish, unless they’re swimming next to one another). Our spring will begin just as soon as the remaining 20 inches of snow melt off. Not much open water yet for ducks. Looking forward to May warblers…you’ll have to let us know what’s headed our way. Take care! — Lou

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