Sept. 5, 2012
It's that time of year again! (No, not tax time...phew!) It's waterfowl time on the Refuge. As temperatures begin to dip...flocks of ducks and geese begin to arrive for their southward migration. Some will stay and feed on Refuge wetlands for months...dining on sago pondweed, alkali bulrush seeds and macroinvertebrates. Many species of waterfowl - from duck to swan to goose - can be found passing through the Refuge...and this week...it's the Return of the Ruddy!
Now - it's true - small numbers of Ruddy ducks, the chubby-cheeked and stiff-tailed diving duck, do breed on the Refuge, but they usually are not seen in the hundreds to thousands as they can be seen right now during migration. Unit 2, the water in the center of the Auto Loop - and especially the deeper southeast end - seems to be a favorite spot for the large flotillas of Ruddies right now, as well as grabbags of earged grebes! Short and stocky and low to the water like a sawed-off submarine, Ruddies are easily picked out even in just silohuette.
And don't forget all the other waterfowl arriving too. Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Mergansers may start arriving any time...and the wetlands are already being inundated by Pintail, Mallard and Teal! So enjoy a motor around the loop and while you do...watch for a wave from many a stiff tail of a Ruddy duck!