Jan 10 2014

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: First of ’14

The first day of the year is always one of anticipation for me: I enjoy keeping track of some of the firsts. The first book I’ve read start-to-finish will be The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, for instance. Not that I haven’t read it before, but it’s been years, and I’d forgotten much of it. The first walk of the year was along North Creek with B, and the first birds we saw (outside of a possible small sparrow) also became the first photos of the year.



I don’t recall seeing these ducks around during the summer, and believe me, I’ve been up and down this stretch of creek to know many of the denizens personally – including the probable gay couple consisting of one mallard and one I can’t identify (they will be subject of a post of their own soonish). B spotted them and wondered what they were, et voila, we had our first photo of 2014.



Immediately I photographed the little buggers, of course, they took off down the creek and made themselves very hard to shoot. They seem a bit timid around people. The local ducks were all up in the parking lot getting their share of an enormous bag of duck food from the trunk of a nice couple’s car, but this lot wanted nothing to do with that.



We get all kinds round here. And I really should be spending more time with them – the way my legs reacted to being asked to walk a couple miles informs me that one of my first acts of 2014 must needs be getting up and around. I’ve been rather prone to lying abed all day reading and writing, and this, apparently, is not conducive to fitness. Perhaps I should take a lesson from our unidentified members of the duck family and go have a nice, healthful paddle – although in my case, it will be in an indoor heated pool.



So that was lovely, and then we made our way up and around the pond, where I got to show B the oriole’s nest you lot identified year before last, although the light wasn’t all spiffy like last year. The sun had come out just long enough to prod us awake (far too early), and then buggered off. But it wasn’t so bad, and everything was still visible, and it wasn’t dripping rain all over, which turned out to be a wonderful thing when we were returning along the ballfields and a bloody great bald eagle soared overhead and landed in the lights.

An enormous bald eagle taking off from its quite-brief perch on a set of ballfield lights.

An enormous bald eagle taking off from its quite-brief perch on a set of ballfield lights.

It was clutching lunch, which you can’t see here, but decided this wasn’t the place it wished to dine and took off again just as I was whipping the camera out. Alas, the only photo of it in flight turned out blurry beyond use, but it was quite wonderful and awe-inspiring. I’ve never seen a bald eagle down so far – they normally hang out in the more remote reaches of the creek.

So there were those, and they were lovely, and so was the lunch we picked up at Teddy’s Bigger Burger, where I took the first fish photo of ’14.

A yellow clownfish contemplates its own reflection.

A yellow clownfish contemplates its own reflection.

There we are, the first of many. B and I have quite a few adventures planned for the summer, and he’s good at spotting birds, so hopefully we’ll have some fabulous UFD finds for you this year.


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  1. 1

    My guess is American wigeon, Anas americana. Had it been sunny out, you could probably have seen the bit of shiny green on the side of the head. Pretty!

  2. 2
    Lithified Detritus

    I’ll second American wigeon – they do winter in your area, according to the map in Stokes.

  3. 3

    Yes, American Wigeon, and quite lovely they are!

    Your quest of yearly firsts is more varied than mine, Dana, but I do maintain a little ritual of making the first wild critter I photograph each year my Facebook avatar for the year. It’s rarely something I expect, so the best-laid plans of mice and men gang routinely agley. (Green Heron this year, though I’d rather hoped it’d be the Hooded Merganser at the same pond.)

  4. 4

    Also agreed on the wigeon ID. So pretty! Nice little tropical fish, too.

  5. 5

    American Wigeon…Oh wait, I’ve already been beaten to it four times! Very common this time of year. It’s also a good season for pintails.

    And it appears you’ve found Nemo.

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