Things are heating up over at the Two Mile Ponds along Ocean Drive, although the huge numbers of Black Ducks that were hanging out there before the snows have thinned out a bit. Most of the ice on the ponds has melted away, but new storms are predicted for later this week. This morning I walked out the new Boardwalk/Marsh Trail, still snow-covered but easily passable.
I stopped several times along the trail to scan the ponds through the brown phrag, which has been beaten down pretty severely by the snows. The usual gang of Pintails whistled over in the far corner near the land trap (see photo above); Buffleheads, Blacks, and a few Mallards dabbled there, too. A breeding-plumage Hooded Merganser and his crazy-haired bride circled around lovingly like they were ready to rent a room at the StarLux. The male Hooded has my vote as the most beautiful winter duck around here, although there's much to be said for breeding-plumage Red-breasted Mergs and of course the occasional Harlequin out on the ocean.
A couple of drake Green-wing Teal paddled around also, no mate in sight, and a couple of Killdeer were feeding in the mudflats. Yay, Spring! Lol, jk. If you decide to head over there soon, please don't walk all the way out to the end of the boardwalk right away. You will surely spook all the ducks as soon as you round the last bend. Take your time, stop often along the boards and scan.
One of my reader(s) told me today that blogging about my backyard is a pretty poor substitute for going afield, and I agree. He very kindly pointed out at least a dozen little-known but potentially good birding trails on Refuge land, and even provided me with a map (of sorts). Accordingly, my next reports will be from Kimbles Beach and the trails at the Refuge Office. I hear the Bluebirds are thick there. Then on to Bucks Ave. and the new Braddock Tract property, where I am "guaranteed" to see wild turkeys. And if I get lost, I know who to call.