photo of the week

A Chow-Down Duck Party

A gaggle of Northern Shovelers have happened upon a part of Saracen Lake, which is apparently rich in the nutrients that ring their respective bells.  It is root-hog-or-die with any thoughts of table manners being summarily jettisoned as an entry level requirement for participation in the chow-down event.

duck luck

Sunday, August 21, 2016
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Author's Note

Northern Shoveler Ducks are fun to watch.  Prior to the midst of January, 2015, I had no idea that a Northern Shoveler Duck even existed — that is, until I made the discovery on the banks of Saracen Lake, our local downtown impoundment.

Waterfowl have figured out that the lake, the banks of which are frequently populated by lot of people, is safe for them despite the human presence.  This makes for some great photo ops and the opportunity to see wildlife being wildlife as they would probably do absent the human factor.  And that, my friends is a big benefit attached to a well-managed urban lake.

Take a look below and see what I saw.  I guarantee you’ll like it, and you did not have to depart your residence.  Be sure and click on the link at the end of the article to our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, for even more ducks.


Joe Dempsey 


A Beak like a....

A boy shoveler and his wife (and/or girlfriend) are cruising around the lake.  Despite the fact that Mr. Duck is looking resplendent in his feathery raiment, she could care less as she speeds by collecting a meal in her specialized beak, which more or less gives the bird its name.  That beak does kinda remind one of... well... a shovel.

A Swarm of Shovelers

Originally Published on January 18, 2015

Some days, you just get lucky.

A day or two ago, I made a swing by Saracen Lake here in Pine Bluff, and it looked like a major “Shoveler” convention was well under way.  The best corner of the lake was swarming with them.  More properly known as the Northern Shoveler, this is a pretty duck — the males with a green head, black bill, bright orange feet with black, tan and white wing and tail feathers accented by some rusty feathers on the side.  These dudes look like high-end aquatic sport models.


If You Can't Lick 'Em....

Mr. Dude Shoveler, after being rejected, decides that if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.


Time to Preen

Once satisfied, Bro. Shoveler decides it is time to do a bit of preening.

I was fortunate to have the lake shore almost totally to myself for some reasonably close shots for thirty minutes or so before walkers with dogs and other duck observers spooked them farther out in the lake.  I feel no enmity towards these citizens, who share the same access rights with me.


Pandemonium at the Dinner Table

When shovelers get together for a neighborhood feed, pandemonium is the order of the day.

The ducks have a diet of minute plant food and aquatic invertebrates.  When they are foraging, they are plowing through the water with beaks submerged, leaving a good wake.  When one or more of the flock finds a “honey hole,” his or her compatriots join-in for a small feeding frenzy, a fun activity to watch.  During the course of my observation, I saw no less than a dozen or more of these shoveler smorgasbords underway at once.


The Long Line of Avian Tradition

Meanwhile, across the street near the Jefferson County Courthouse, starlings line up on utility poles and lines.  It has been this way for as long as I can remember.  I’ve shot similar aggregations in the same place since before my hair upped and turned gray.

I did not have to wander from home turf to find neat stuff.  Give it a shot yourself.  You might be surprised.


see more
But Wait, There's More....
See Wilbur T. Gull,
Jonathan’s long-lost brother-in-law,
plus some more duck pictures,
a pelican on the wing,
and an egret during a scratch session.
See it all at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.  Click here and enjoy.

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