Scandal on the Water

In today’s post we are going to do some time traveling. Trust me, I am trying to chip away at the backlog or minimally get back to a reasonable delay – getting harder to remember all the details of a given trip into the field. Unfortunately, it seems to be a Sisyphus effort as I filter through just about all of the images previously processed and then I discover another folder from a trip I haven’t even touched yet. Should probably join a Photographers Anonymous group – “Hello, I’m Brian and I take a LOT of pictures”. On the bright side, an abundance of material it is a good problem to have if you are a blogger.

I did finally get the massive Haunted Halloween Trail posts up on the Intrigued Mothership. Those take a serious chunk of time to gather and document the walk throughs. If you like Halloween and don’t mind your image cache being inundated, you might check out those posts.

Now let’s get to our featured feathered friend.

American Wigeon December 2016

Hit the jump to read more about our featured dabbler.

Should have probably been clearer on that. The post feature is not the Redhead Duck casting shade at the fellow watermate. Nope, our topic is the American Wigeon on the right side of the image. Now for the embarrassing part. This series of shots was taken on the Texas Gulf Coast back in (as he looks away sheepishly) December 2016.

American Wigeon December 2016

The part that is completely annoying about this is I haven’t even touched the Texas Gulf Coast trip from last January (13 new species by the way), the Lake Tahoe trip a few months before that (3 new species) and too many others to count before that. Not completely my fault as there is that “He Who Owes Me Bigly” event that I decided to give a certain person first crack at. Not pushing…well, maybe a slight nudge as there is planning underway for a “He Who Owes Me Bigly Again” event. I do find it comical that this unnamed person was always on me for being late with my posts…welcome to the club hehehehe.

American Wigeon December 2016

Anyway, we are really here to discuss the Wigeon. When it comes to identification, the Wigeon drake is fairly distinguishable in the field depending on the age and what state of breeding plumage it happens to be in. The body feather palette is fairly common with the cinnamons, blacks and the dominate white on the breast. Colors that you can see at any body of water you happen to come upon. The unique part is the head coloring. Sporting an eyeline right out of a bad Scandal (ft. Patty Smyth to be correct) The Warrior video, this duck struts around with an easily recognizable green strip that starts at the front of the eye and down the back of the head/neck.

American Wigeon December 2016

Actually, the easily recognizable part is in reference to the full breeding plumage and the angle relative to the light. The first few specimens here didn’t have the full feathering or a good angle, so went ahead and added the following shot even though it has some annoying reeds in it. You will also notice the white cap which is a good way to tell them from the Eurasian variety in the field.

American Wigeon December 2016

For the record, Eurasian Wigeons will sport a cream/buff colored stripe and also has a chestnut head. One of these Eurasians showed up near Joliet recently and Ron was able to tin one there. I ended up looking at the region map and noted they like to hang out on the Texas Gulf Coast. No need to go out in the cold when you can see them in the Texas warmth in a few months. In the meantime I was going to scan my January Texas pictures and see if one happens to already be there – nothing like birding from your den in the winter ha.

American Wigeon December 2016

Getting back to our American variety, the females are more drab. Their browns are lighter and their heads are covered by the brown/gray feathering – they lack the breeding green highlight and white stripe of the drake. The have a dark spot around the eye that looks like their doing the walk of shame after a hard night of jello shots. As that is not as distinguishable in the field unless you can smell the alcohol on their breadth, look for the pale colored bill with a black ink dipped tip.

American Wigeon December 2016

Coming up on the last image of the series, better get to some interesting tidbits. First off, the American Wigeon region (try saying that three times fast) is widespread, extending to all of the connected US states, down into Central America and up to catch Alaska and most of Canada. Cornell did mention their numbers are on the decline. They also mentioned that our American variety will show up in Europe from time to time intermixed with the Eurasian flocks. The drakes have picked up the moniker Baldplate thanks to their white head stripe – a name I am sure the males do not appreciate. While taking this shot I could hear the Mottled Duck yelling “Hey cue balls, get the hell off my nest!”.

American Wigeon December 2016

Will put a bow on this post. Hope you enjoyed the jump back in time. Oh, and admit it, if you lived through the 80’s at some point in this post you sang “Bang, bang I am the warrior”

2 thoughts on “Scandal on the Water”

    1. Thanks B! Honestly feel a bit like I didn’t do them service enough as I was really lacking the shot that really showed of their green marking – really glints in good light. Will try to improve on that the next time they come off the queue. As always, appreciate you dropping in and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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