Our area is kinda ‘fly-over-country’ for some of the ducks I show you today. Usually they spend the summer north of Iowa. The Mississippi River is an important flyway for their long travel.
It isn’t the first time that all three species used the pond at the Deere Marsh north of Dubuque, Iowa for food supply and rest during migration in spring. The Northern Pintail is easy to identify, even if someone is not so familiar with their color or pattern in the plumage. The long tail, much longer than on other ducks, tells the story, even if they have the head under water like the one in this image.
I watched several pairs of Gadwalls swimming and feeding by submerging the head in the muddy water. Part of the pond had a thin layer of ice but the Gadwalls had no problem finding food.
The Ring-necked Duck is a diving duck and feeds mainly on aquatic plants and seeds but also snaps at insects on the water surface. Their chestnut neck ring is often hard to see from further away but the white ring on their bill is a prominent field mark and makes identification relatively easy.
I used my car as a blind to get as close as possible to the ducks. At my slow arrival they all swam away from the shore but after a few minutes they came back within the range of the lens. Not as close as I would have liked and so I have cropped the photos a little.