I made my annual duck sighting trip to the duck ponds outside Fort De Soto in early December. As usual this time of year, the pond was full of redheads and ring necked ducks. They were all still sleeping when I got there.
A few of them had their eye on me. We only get redheads in the winter.
A juvenile white ibis tries to land in the middle. He did not stay.
There were a few northern shovelers floating as well.
A male shoveler came by pretty close.
The female was trying to sleep in.
This one might still be a juvenile. The colors in his feathers were not quite bright yet. He seemed curious.
The pond will hopefully stay full throughout the winter. I’ll keep checking if they do in case something unusual shows up. I had heard there was an American wigeon there but I couldn’t find him. It will be a lifer if I can find him.
I got out of the car to look for the rare surf scoter that had been spotted here the day before. When I looked in the pond I saw two osprey and it looked like they were taking a bath.
One flew right at me.
The other one flew off but one kept getting in the water.
Up again, all wet.
Flying a few feet.
I didn’t see any fish so it must be taking a bath.
Another flight around the pond.
Then back in the water again. He went in pretty deep.
I did not find the surf scoter. But, I did watch the osprey taking a bath. It was a dark late afternoon. It was about to rain when I stopped by the duck pond near Fort Desoto. When I first got there, two were swimming in the water. Right away one few off. The other one would dip in the water and fly around and do it again. Three times he did this. He was flapping hard and putting his head under the water so he must have been bathing instead of fishing. I guess they get dirty hanging out in trees and utility poles. There wasn’t much else in the pond but a few moorhens and gulls so I left and headed into the park.
Male redhead flapping.
Northern Shoveler flapping.
Another male redhead flapping.
Female redhead watching me as she flapped.
A male redhead really showing off.
As I stood at the duck pond outside of Fort Desoto park, all I could hear was the constant sound of flapping. This was a good morning to practice the “getting the duck up on his back flapping” shot. With thousands of ducks there, there were always a few ducks up flapping. They were all busy preening or taking a morning nap. Usually when a duck takes a quick bath and starts preening himself, he usually stands up and flaps his wings for a few seconds to get the excess water off. To have so many of them doing it at the same time was pretty funny.
A very small sampling of the massive amount of ducks in a tiny pond before you drive into Fort Desoto park. Some say there are thousands there. Most are redheads with a few ring necks and lesser scaup.
That coot in the middle was like “I’m tired of being surrounded by redheads. I’m outta here.”
Most were trying to sleep the morning I stopped by.
Many were preening and bathing.
A juvenile ring billed gull flies over the pond. Looks like no place to land on the water.
There were a few northern shovelers in the pond but they stayed in a group by themselves in the corner.
The “duck pond” before you drive into the park is always empty in the summer. In the winter it’s filled with migrating ducks. This winter seems like the most we’ve had. There wasn’t much room for another duck. Since I took these a couple of weeks ago, the redheads have moved to a lagoon across from the east beach turnaround at the park. It’s in front of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. People are estimating there could be as many as 10,000 there right now. They must have eaten all of the bugs in the pond so they had to move to find more bugs? Those redheads really are distinctive looking ducks. So pretty.