Frustrating Fulvouses

Howdy everyone! Although I did get another Halloween project out on the mothership (Our updated UV Light Bombs link here), it has been a bit of time since we’ve had a real wildlife post. To remedy that, today I wanted to bring you a new lifer bird in thanks for having to sit through that rather lengthy project post(s). Some house cleaning before I get to that.

First off, I left my readers hanging on the outcome of the Bix7 race. Some details were provided in response to a few of the comments that asked how it went. As a whole it went quite well! The weather probably lands in the top 5 best conditions I’ve had for that event. End of July races in the Midwest can be brutal with the heat and humidity sucking out every bit of moisture in your body. I’ll never forget the year the course was littered with runners getting IVs in the street gutters. Somewhat cool at the start and smattering of clouds that kept a lot of the humidity in check. They did add a new layer of asphalt to the middle of the race course a year or two ago and for some reason that portion really cooks ya’. Beyond that – no performance excuses can be levied on the race conditions. My primary focus was on the tender ankle. Right before the gun went off I gave it a very stern lecture on how there would be NO whining, NO bitching and certainly NO pansy footing tolerated – there was Whitey’s popsicles at stake and nothing was going to jeopardize getting that delicious post race treat – Linda calls me a medal whore.. in reality I am more of a popsicle whore ha. To keep with tradition, I’ll put a full account of the race in a future post (on the mothership), but as a summary – ankle did just fine. Had some minor swelling afterwards, which was less than expected so complete success. Note – the next day I was moving a ridiculously heavy washer up a truck ramp and the damn thing fell on top of me pinning my injured ankle under it. That pissed me off, but I couldn’t yell at the ankle for that – that was all me and the guy I was helping getting distracted by a Squirrel. Although extremely frustrating at the time, ended up being okay and no additional damage occurred – at least not the serious kind. Ankle continues to improve and now with the ultra race coming up here in October, I’ve been hitting the trails hard and it is holding (always mind over body!).

In honor of being frustrated with the washer incident, decided this, or should I say these, would be a good feature for today.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Hit the jump to read about why these Fulvous Ducks are equated to rampaging appliances

In a previous post I featured one of my top 5 favorite Ducks – the Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck (link here). Those Ducks with their cute little orange bills, solid white eye rings and multi-toned feathering makes my heart melt every time I hear their “whistle calls” ring out over the waters. They do not visit us here in the Midwest, preferring to hang out on the southern tip of Texas and then down the coastline of Central America before exploding into South America. Fortunately, we have easy access to them during our January trips along the Texas Gulf Coast then along the Rio Grande Valley. This seemed to be record year for them as there were HUUUGE flocks in many of the birding hotspots we visited – one of which was Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Even if you are new to the Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck, you may still be putting two and two together and thinking these ducks do not have orange colored bills…or a white eye ring – you might give me a pass on the multi-toned feathering. “That sneaky bastard isn’t pulling one over on me – this ain’t no Black-Bellied!” You are absolutely correct and “still hayseed enough to say” it. Sorry, got Mellencamp on my mind for some unknown reason. Wanna take a guess how many times he sings “small town” in that song?

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Sorry, I digress, back to these lovely “Not Black-Bellied” Ducks. As stated, Anahuac is home to massive flocks, but there was an ebird listing claiming someone had seen another variety – specifically the Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Now that was Intriguing and represented a new tick for Ron and I’s “Average Year” (link here).

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Ron met us in Texas this year so we could kick our competition off right. It really isn’t fair if only one of us can make it to the bird mecca of southern Texas. The second or third day after his arrival we headed over to Anahuac. Didn’t take us very long to spot (or hear) the Black-Bellied species – they basically act as Walmart greeters when you arrive at the refuge. What we couldn’t spot were any specimens sporting the tell-tale blue-grey bills

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

We struck out that day – it still produced a massive number of additions to this year’s list, so we were not too upset. Ron eventually headed back and we continued on our Texas journey more into the interior of the state – that is when the weather took a nasty change. Like the previous year, unexpected freezing temps started to hit while we were in San Antonio (checking out the Alamo). No longer being winterized, we opted to scurry back down to the South Padre Island area. Not warm by any means, just not freezing.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

A quick look at the recent ebird reports informed us the Fulvous was still being seen at Anahuac. Reviewed options with my event coordinator (read Linda) and accepted her terms and conditions for a revision – to this day, I still think having to streak through the campground was a touch too harsh for such a small detour – it was practically on the way!!!!…did I mention it was cold out too. This is what happens when you marry a devious woman that knows she has leverage over you when it comes to birds. I hope she is happy now that we will likely NOT be invited back to that campground.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

On our return trip to Anahuac things, obviously, went much better. Gave a pleasant nod to the Black-Bellied refuge greeters and took the autoloop to a section behind their main body of water. Was actually looking for Sora when this uniquely colored pair caught my eye. Blue-grey bill, no white eye ring, full cinnamon head coloring and the closer – the tiger pattern on their backs. Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have one up on Ron.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Now you are probably still wondering what was so “frustrating” about that – seems like an easy find for a change. Well, the discovery part wasn’t the hair pulling part, getting images of them was where the hardship came in. Maybe you have noticed, maybe you haven’t, regardless, I try to use isolated images of the featured specimen(s) for their official post. It gives an uncluttered feel to the series and keeps me/you/horrified people at the campground focused on the star of the post. Admittedly, at the cost of referential sizing. For some reason, these two Fulvous’ purposely maintained mingle distance with any other Ducks that happened to make its way into the area – that or those waters were stocked with ducks that entertain themselves by photobombing their friends.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Just look at the shots above – first a Blue-Winged Teal decides to bomb the shot, then Mallards and even a !#$@%!#$@%!@%!#%$! COOT got into the game. Just when I thought there was a chance, a bunch of Shovelers come charging in. I swear those Fulvous Ducks were laughing the entire time!!! Got a few shots in the tin that were good enough to go with. They eventually flew off allowing me to bring you a good look at their feet and full cinnamon body. Looks at those legs and feet – fit for the clowning around they were doing while I was trying hard to bring you a full perspective of this new bird.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Added in this shot from behind to show you they do not have the white accents their counterparts, the Black-Bellies, have on their wings. Pretty much all dark with the exception of the white highlights on their tails.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

This is a good way to distinguish them from the Black-Bellies if you only see them flying away and unable to get a good look at their bills. Here is the Black-Bellies’ profile to give you a better visual for future encounters in the field.

Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, TX in January 2022

Let me quickly get to some additional interesting facts about this Whistler before I let you go. Like the Black-Bellied, they are year round residents of the Central America coastlines, however, Cornell does not show them going into South America – rather further north up the Texas coastline and then into the Florida/Keys region. Not sure what is going on in the southern tip of California, but there is a tiny breeding circle there – my guess, they have some kind of annual “How to Frustrate Photographers” conference there. They are commonly found in rice fields (which Anahuac has) – in fact, Cornell mentions it was the rice cultivation that led to their breeding in the States. Lastly, they commonly roost in trees similar to the Wood Duck.

Will leave it there folks and let you get back to your daily grind. As a confession, I am woefully behind on reading the blogs I follow, so accept my apologies on that front. The Halloween factory is in full production at the moment and just gobbling up my time – don’t worry, I’ll definitely get caught up on my reading soon.

Almost forgot – the answer to the Mellencamp quiz was 18 times + one small community and two big towns. From someone like me that lives in a small town, that is a lot of small towns in one short song about small towns written by a guy that will prob’ly [not] die in a small town.

23 thoughts on “Frustrating Fulvouses”

    1. Thank you Athira! In the end got some decent shots, but for a bit there it was touch and go hehehe. Appreciate you dropping in and joining the conversation.

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  1. Darling ducks. Photo bombed by a Coot, eh? Good you got your popsicle. You fought the washer and the washer won? Spunk fought a mouse once and the mouse won once. Spunk even gave that mouse a good left hook. It was a tough mouse.

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    1. Those damn Coots are the band of my existence – literally everywhere and cause such a ruckus at any unnatural sound that basically scares all the good birds off the water..and trees, and land and wherever else I might be pointing The Beast. Yes, the washer won (as I sheepishly look to the ground). The colder night air unexpectedly made my truck ramps slick – got halfway up them pulling the washer in the dolly when the feet slipped, I went down and then entire thing, dolly and all crashed down on top of me – man was I pissed, although it could have been a lot worse. Wow, that is one tough mouse – perhaps, do I dare say it might have been Mighty Mouse!?! Hopefully Spunk, worked on his boxing skills and got back on the horse. Thanks for dropping in Tim – looks like the Rio Grande filled up a bit.

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        1. Wow, that is one brave Mouse! Are you sure he just didn’t run down to the local pet store and buy a dead Mouse and pass it off as a fresh kill? You can’t put anything past Spunk. Loved the song as well ha!

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          1. You never know with Spunk. Spunked was too involved in acting and modelling for the camera to kill the mouse. That mouse really stood up to the old spunk, as well. It out spunked Spunk.

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    1. Thank you B! You think nature would be a little more considerate and understanding of us easily frustrated photographers – it is hard enough getting it right in perfect conditions ha. Been seeing a ton of Dragons around lately. Not sure if it is normal for them or not, but they seem really big this year – some of their bodies are as fat as my thumb and long as one of my fingers. Unfortunately, they’ve been leaving huge splats on the windshield on our returns home at dusk (must be chowing on our corn ha). Take care and glad to see your lemming was able to make it home for a visit.

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  2. Great shots of these ducks – and really nice that you could include the Black-bellied for comparison. Must be some force in the universe… I woke up this morning from a dream in which I was worried I had mis-identified a Fulvous as a Black-bellied. You set me straight 🙂

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    1. Appreciate it Sam – Ron is still upset he didn’t get a chance to tin them when he was visiting us down there. That’s some nightmare you got there ha – glad I was able to put you back at ease. Was looking at the Anahuac sightings yesterday and noticed the Purple Gallinule was seen there – arrrrggggghhhh – been hunting those down for what seems like forever. Thanks for dropping in and joining the conversation.

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  3. Congratulations on a pair of spectacular life ducks. You have no reason to complain about your photos, which shows their stunning features beautifully. Thank you for the comparison with the Black-bellies. I need to get myself to a place where I can make the acquaintance of both species.

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    1. Why thank you Tanja, you are too kind. The Fulvous are a nice addition to my life list (double special because Ron doesn’t have those yet ha). You are welcome for the comparison – I am constantly building up a better “field guide” to help ID in the field. Gulls are still a pain in the ass, but getting much better at birding by ear thanks to the Merlin app and discovering more and more tidbits to help differentiate some of the more difficult ones – like the Harry vs the Down WP and Eastern vs Western Meadowlarks etc. As I learn them I try to share them with everyone else. Appreciate you stopping in and have a great rest of the week!

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    1. You are absolutely correct, thanks for catching that! My highly compensated editor abandoned me for a vacation in Hawaii leaving me here alone to deal with our uppity lawyers and do my own proof reading – trust me NOBODY wants that ha!

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  4. My goodness if this isn’t the prettiest duck I have ever seen. I have never heard of it either, but the color and the pattern is just gorgeous. This is what is so fun about bird photography finding one of these. I was looking at the Dauphin Island face book page and someone took a photo of a Spoonbill on the beach. A rare sighting they said for that area. I would love to see one of those as well. 🙂

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    1. Surprised to hear that Spoonbills are rare for Dauphin – you would think that habitat would be perfect for them. If you are every around Galveston Island or South Padre Island you will surely get a good glimpse of them there. They can put on quite the show when they are feeding in a group. Thanks for dropping in Sandra – not sure how this comment got past me, but apologies for that.

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    1. Unfortunately, they stay away from the Midwest as well so we have to travel to get them. I think we can arrange some kind of deal, there are a number of Chesapeake resident birds I’d love to have – maybe I can scoop a few of those Fulvouses the next time I’m down in Texas and we can swap – win, win… well, maybe not for the ducks, but definitely for us ha! Sorry for the late response again, guess where your comment ended up again – so frustrating.

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