Ring-necked Ducks with Ringed Necks!

two ringed necks displayed
Usually it is very difficult to see the crimson ring around their necks that gave this species the name Ring-necked Duck. These two were very cooperative, however.

ringnecked pair
It is much easier to see the ringed bill than the ringed neck - especially from a distance. You can see why they are often erroneously called ring-billed ducks.

ringnecked pair 3
The female Ring-necked gave equal time to both her male companions.

ring necked group
The two males have slightly different plumages. I don't know if the one on the far left is still molting or if he's a juvenile.

ring-necked takeoff
Ring-necked Duck walking (well, running, actually) on water.


Some Good Health News! (Off my usual topic, but worth reading!)

metallic gift boxes
I went to a doctor specializing in environmental and occupational health recently because I was exposed to metal dust, solvents, and other such stuff while doing arts and crafts at home. Luckily for me, I found out I was injured by the exposure, but not poisoned. I still need a chest X-ray to be certain, but she thinks the metals that pierced my skin and eyes won't kill me and could leave me no worse off than I am now. Of course, I have to be patient. It could take months before the glue and metal dust and solvents and paper work their way out of my system. And the lung damage - if it occurred - isn't fixable. But I remain hopeful that I'll completely recover. I'm trying to be patient in dealing with the after-effects, but I did manage to ingest and inhale quite a bit of metal, paper, plastic, and glue!

handmade craft boxes
I learned a lot of hard lessons these past 2 months. I learned that every time I cut a piece of metallic paper or ribbon, tiny slivers would break off. I also learned that ionic air cleaners are really electrostatic precipitators that basically magnetize every particulate of smoke or dust in the air. The magnetized molecules stick to the metal collection bars, which cleans the air. These fans are magnetic, too. With four Ionic Breezes running in a small room, the teeny bits of metal would spin around the room, slicing though my eyes and piercing my skin as they went. And since I was breathing the whole time, I inhaled the stuff, too.

metallised mementos
This might sound stupid, but I didn't know metallic paper and metallic Mylar and such really stuff contained metal. I was using origami paper, for goodness sakes! Yet all that stuff from the craft store has a Material Safety Data Sheets hidden away somewhere. Almost all the non-toxic products I use tell you to wear masks, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing. Some even say that ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact (!) require a physician's care.

boxes Decorative
Like many people with ADD, I am drawn to things that shine and shimmer. I love my shiny little boxes, and all the other stuff I make with the same materials. I have been perfecting this technique for about five years now, but I'm done with crafting for the time being. It is not worth the lung pain or the feelings reminiscent of glass splinters. It's not worth the lumps and bumps all over my body, each of which is actually adhesive, paper, or tiny specs of metal dust. It is not worth having my pores clogged with permanent, waterproof adhesive so nothing will come out.

boxes 1
It is (mostly) my own fault for running all those Ionic Breezes while I worked. (Oh, and I also learned that breathing in ozone is bad for humans, at least in large quantities. When I sold Ionic Breezes on eBay in 2001, they were supposed to be good for people with breathing problems. I remember a mom with a severely asthmatic child begging me for a portable one.) Now, four Ionic Breezes in a small, unventilated room produces far more ozone than the government considers safe. But ozone does other things besides damage your lungs. It bonds with molecules in solvents, glues, and metals and can even change non-toxic materials into toxic materials. Evidently everything is hazardous to your health these days!


Gorgeous Wood Ducks in Framingham!

wood duck sudbury river feb 2011This was the first day I've been birding on my own in over two months! And what am I lucky enough to see? My favorite duck - the Wood Duck!

wood duck 2 24 2011
Anyway, I just knew I'd find ducks on the Sudbury River today! Why? Because I did a year ago today, of course!

wood duck sudbury river feb 24 11
In my opinion, Wood Ducks are not only the most colorful and prettiest ducks we have around here - they are also one of the coolest duck species in existence!

wood duck sudbury river feb 24 2011
Wood Ducks nest in TREES! They are often found in groups that include Hooded Mergansers (another favorite!), and sometimes lay their eggs in the wrong nest. Why is that cool? Because Woodies and Hoodies simply raise each others babies as their own!

mallard hiding framingham feb
I saw something large slip into the underbrush, which turned out to be a male mallard. He was much more shy than the Wood Duck.


Mischievous Mergansers

rb merganser aggression
The Red-breasted Mergansers were far more active than the Common Eiders we saw. They were constantly diving for food, but they also seemed to be showing a lot of aggression towards the Eiders - without any obvious provocation.

rb merganser aggression 2
This merganser was really making himself appear large and intimidating.

rb merganser aggression
For the most part, the Common Eiders just watched dispassionately. They appeared unimpressed.

Common eider shows his stuff
One eider finally reacted, showing himself to be larger and stronger looking than the merganser who started it all.

merganser dance
In this shot, it looks like he's dancing a ballet!


Loons in Winter

common loon III cape feb 2011
I love loons. I love loons so much that I took about 20 pictures of this one, not realizing till later that he hadn't moved throughout.

common loon II cape feb 2011
Loons must be pretty mellow. A merganser would have struck 20 poses in the same amount of time.

loon bill back
Loons in winter plumage aren't as gorgeous as when they wear their black and white checkerboard colors, but I still am crazy (as a loon) for loons!

last loon 2
Pete took the last loon photos from the car as we were heading home. In this photo, the loon looks like he's smiling!

last loon
He looks pretty cheery here. too - despite the bitter cold.


Cape Cod Common Goldeneyes

common goldeneye cape feb
A beautiful look at a Common Goldeneye off the coast of Falmouth. You can see why they are named "Goldeneyes," right?

common goldeneye male
This was not my first sighting of a Common Goldeneye, but it was the first time I managed to get some acceptable photos.

goldeneye cape feb 2011
In the first photo, his head appeared green; in the second it looks black. Here you can see a little bit of the iridescent green sheen on his head.

female goldeneye
This is a bad photo of a female Goldeneye. She was nowhere near the male in the photos above. Strangely enough, she looks nothing like the female Goldeneye I saw last year in Framingham (see next pic).

male female goldeneye feb 2010
Of course, it was snowing like crazy last year when I shot this picture, and I didn't half a great lens like I have now. The difference in lighting and the different lens must explain why the female appears to be so different in the two photos.


Scaups on Cape Cod

male scaups
These are two male Scaups. Greater or Lesser? I don't know. I am pretty sure we saw both, but since these were the very first scaups I ever saw, I can't be sure. Life-lister!

male female greater or lesser scaups cape cod
Female scaups have a white ring around their bill. I can't swear that these three are all the same species, though.

pair greater scaups cape cod
I thought this pair were Greater Scaups - but now I realize I was mistaken.

male greater or lesser scaups cape cod
These are male Scaups.

female scaup
This one is female. More than that I don't know. Someone else will have to tell me if it is a Greater Scaup or a Lesser Scaup! ( Consensus = All Lesser Scaups)


Buffleheads (AKA Buffalo Heads)

buffleheads 2
I have trouble photographing Buffleheads and other black and white birds. Is it only me?

buffleheads 1
Buffleheads are the smallest ducks there are. The males only weigh about 1 pound! Despite the fact that they are teeny, tiny birds . . .

buffleheads females
They are called Buffalo Heads (shortened to Buffleheads long ago) because their heads are large in comparison to their bodies. Female Buffleheads weigh even less than males - usually much less than a pound!

female buffleheads taking off
My son, Pete Wrublewski, took these photos of female buffleheads in flight. I was amazed that he was able to get the shots because these babies are FAST when flying!

female buffleheads flying 2
More Buffleheads in flight thanks to photographer Pete Wrublewski.


A White-winged Scoter!

white-winged scoter cape 2011
Seeing a White-winged Scoter was also a treat. I've seen one only once before and was too far away for decent pictures. For my son, this was one for the life-list.

white winged scoter cape february
The male White-winged Scoter has has a distinctive comma-shaped white patch around it's eyes. It's eye's are white, as well.

white-winged scoter cape two 2011
Male White-winged Scoter either preening or scratching an itch.

white-winged scoter cape feb
White-winged scoter at sea.

white-winged scoter  sleeping
I believe this Scoter was attempting to nap on the frigid ocean waters until we interrupted him.


Not so Common Eiders

common eider cape cod canal
This Common Eider is the same species I nicknamed Ugly Duck this past summer. As you can see, he is clearly NOT an ugly duck now! In fact, I've rarely seen such an unusual and striking looking species in my life!

common eider male
In this picture, you get a better view of his very unique nose(?)

common eiders cape cod canal
Three gorgeous males and an attractive female Common Eider.

common eiders and a merganser cape jan
The very dark colored Common Eider on the far left is a juvenile. He is very similar to our little ugly duck, but much larger. It takes a few years for these ducks to have adult plumage. This is also a species that has an eclipse plumage every fall.

common eiders and merganser cape jan
A few Red-breasted Mergansers were hanging with this flock of Common Eiders. The two species didn't appear especially friendly towards each other, but they all stayed pretty close to each other. Safety in numbers, maybe?