A new bird species showed up this past week in our local patch. Number 175 on the list was the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. This species has become more common in our County during the past few years, but seemed to be avoiding our neighborhood. (Click HERE to view my eBird patch list).
On July 29, a flock of five flying over the lake attracted my attention while I was photographing this Great Blue Heron in the darkness before sunrise:
Their continuous piercing wheezy whistles were hard to miss. I snapped a quick shot without time to correct my camera settings for a flight photo. The results were poor:
A heavily cropped image of one member of the flock documents pertinent field marks, notably the white upper wing coverts which contrast with the black flight feathers, bright orange bill and feet, and dark undersides:
When I see whistling-ducks I think of fellow East Texas blogger Theresa ("Tex"), who had a large flock on her property and so enjoyed sharing photos of them. My first encounter with the species was ten years ago, when they suddenly became rather common in Wakodahatchee Wetlands in neighboring Palm Beach County.
This was my first photo of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (February 24, 2009):
They differ from pond ducks by having long necks and long legs which give them a goose-like appearance:
I grew up calling them Tree Ducks. They have long claws, an adaptation to nesting in tree cavities. They range in coastal areas of Mexico, Central and South America, Florida and the Gulf states as well as inland into Texas and north along the Mississippi Valley and have sporadically expanded their breeding range into the eastern half of the lower 48 States.
Only two whistling-duck species are found in North America. The Fulvous Whistling-Duck occupies a more restricted range in the USA, but is also found in South America, Africa, Eurasia and even in Europe. I have photographed this species on only one occasion, in a Storm Water conservation area (STA-5, February, 2010) in south Florida:
Rain and thunderstorms have kept us close to home. On July 30 we had to make a hasty retreat from the wetlands when, before sunrise, the sky turned dark and we heard thunder:
Safe in our back yard around sunrise, we watched the storm dissipate before it reached our house:
The next morning was different. We did not even think about taking a walk. This was the menacing sky over our back yard lake just before sunrise on July 31:
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display