Waterfowl: Local, Invasive and Rare

Sea Ducks only winter here in Massachusetts. However, many fresh water ducks breed here with Mallards probably being the most numerous. One of our other local breeding ducks is the Gadwall. This is a male displaying the small white patch on the wing.

Mute Swans, on the other hand, are an invasive species. They were brought over from Europe in the late 1800s to grace parks but have made their way into the wild. They are much larger and more aggressive than Canada Geese. And they damage the ecosystem as they tend to rip out vegetation rather than nipping it. I got this shot as one was taking off toward me. I am happy that he banked away before he got close!

My real treat for the week was being among the first to report a flock of Snow Geese on Plum Island. There was a flurry of activity when the report went out and several people managed to see them. They are rare here, but are common in many parts of the country. I saw thousands of them at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. They winter in the Mid-Atlantic states but migrate back north to the west of Massachusetts. We see an occasional bird or two during the winter and they always generate a lot of interest. So spotting a flock of eight Snow Geese flying toward me at this time of year was exciting. And the flock included one blue morph, a darker version that results from a gene variation (allele). These are sometimes called a “Blue Goose”. Here are some of the photos I took.

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