Please understand that these are my very favorite ducks. They (I’m speaking of the males really, who, like most birds, are the more colorful of the two sexes) are beautiful, with fine, distinctive white lines apportioning their heads into different sections. Their eyes are bright red, sides and tops of head shades of green and purple, a multicolored beak with red-orange, white and black. Dark blue is the color of one set of feathers that lay along their sides. (Yes, I’ve yet to learn the technical names for bird anatomy. . . .) Other colors on them include gray, rich brown and a buff white. They really are striking.
I’ve only seen one wood duck before. It was several years ago during a paddling trip with customers on the Magallaway River above Errol, NH. Our trip took us down a flatwater section of the river to Lake Umbagog, a common destination for Great Glen’s full day public paddling trips. (Most of our trips go in and out the Androscoggin River to Umbagog, but sometimes we can accommodate special requests for an alternative route.)
On that trip a few of us saw the pretty wood duck swimming close to the shoreline.
Despite reading their name on lists of birds I might see in a number of areas I’ve visited, and making numerous trips to the Umbagog Wildlife Refuge every summer, I haven’t seen another wood duck since. Until today! And at Great Glen, which in many ways, I think of as home.
I was finishing up a run on our trails. I was on the lower end of Dragon Corridor, where it passes by the Peabody River and a wetland area created by our busy beaver population. Some birds in the water caught my eye. I stopped. Wood ducks--a pair. The male made a little high-pitched call, and they took to the air. But I had gotten a clear enough view to be sure of their identification, and to enjoy their beauty.
Wonder what I’ll come across on the trails next time?