Background Switcher (Hidden)

Birthplace of Ducks

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A blue-winged teal, Bill of the Birds' favorite duck. They are everywhere in North Dakota, leading little broods of bumbly yellow ducklings.

The North Dakota Missouri Coteau region is justly famous for being the birthplace of ducks. Brief, geology-for-morons explanation: The Missouri Coteau is the place where the glacier stopped, and dumped all its gravel. Big chunks of ice bore down into the earth, creating deep potholes, and the gravel that the glacier pushed before it piled up into moraines and ridges, that rise above the flat ancient sea bottom in ridges visible for miles. Here’s a road, going along the flat, then rising up to the Coteau.You get up on the Coteau, and everything seems to come to life. The land rolls and undulates and rises up in sudden promontories. Grasses wave like the sea. Birds pop out of every slough and ditch. It is a birder’s paradise. It is...ridiculously birdy. It is one of the places you MUST go before you die. Start with the Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival. Next June. Be there.

The potholes are full of ducks, like these gorgeous shovelers. This pair of males was keeping company, and even displaying a bit to each other, but I did not feel as though their relationship threatened the institution of marriage. I'll have to check the laws in North Dakota to see what's allowed, but personally, I was cool with it.This male was one of a heterosexual pair, but he looked wary. He exploded into flight, unexpected colors flaring from his epaulets. WOW. Being on the wrong side of the car, I thrust my camera into Bill’s hands, and he captured the images. I doubt I'd have gotten it. Thanks, sweetie.Such an exultation of color! The same sky-blue upper wing coverts as a blue-winged teal, with a teal-green speculum. Whoooo-eee. Imagine if we hadn't been shooting smack into the light. Oh, gosh. I'm sounding more like a photographer all the time. Picky, picky.

flying shoveler photos by Bill Thompson III

I'm painting flying woodpeckers today, slowly losing my mind from boredom. There are like a bazillion polka dots on the outspread wings of every darn one of them, and each one has to be painted around. Yawwwnnn...prairie dreams.
[Back to Top]