Posted by: atowhee | January 11, 2010

False spring at Ashland Pond

It’s not only drought-dry this week, it’s unseasonably warm.  I’ve gotten reports that Red-tailed Hawks are starting their winter courtship flights.  That’s normal.  But singing Red-winged Blackbirds and Lesser Goldfinches is a bit unusual for January.  And on Ashland Pond I saw the first signs of duck courtship.  Male Mallards doing their macho chases of one another and the females.  And two Hooded Mergansers side-by-side like small battling frigates head-cocking and blowing up those white feather windows on each side of their faces. 

I submit there is no way you can take enough good pictures of Hooded Mergansers.  Like Sandhill Cranes and Cedar Waxwings, they are elegant, social and eye-catching critters.

This is the male duo now on Ashland Pond.  Their performance and appearance must be pleasing,the female count has risen to three.

Note those wide-open white windows?  They can narrow them down to thin white slashes in the right mood, which is usually snoozing or rest.  This quarter-round shape is close to full alert.

Above: two females on left, males on right.  Right-hand pic: female Mallard sleeping between loafing pair of Hoodies.  That’s the female in foreground.

Upon reflection:

Two Robins after the winterized, pulverized, frozen, then thawed fruits.

Twice in the past few days I have seen a Merlin hunting over Ashland Pond.  We humans are not the only bird-watchers at this location.  Once he took a run at several perched Starlings, unfortunately they all escaped.

Location:     Ashland Pond
Observation date:     1/9/10
Notes:     Singing birds: Wrentit, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrow–mild spring-like weather.
Number of species:     25

American Wigeon     4
Mallard     12
Northern Shoveler     2
Ring-necked Duck     7
Lesser Scaup     1
Hooded Merganser     4
Great Blue Heron     1
Merlin     1
American Coot     2
Acorn Woodpecker     3
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     2
Black Phoebe     1
Western Scrub-Jay     10
Black-capped Chickadee     1
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
American Robin     60
Wrentit     1
Spotted Towhee     3
Song Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     1
Golden-crowned Sparrow     25
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     16
Red-winged Blackbird     3
Purple Finch     6
Lesser Goldfinch     10


Location:     Ashland Pond
Observation date:     1/11/10
Notes:     quite windy, keeping smaller birds under cover
Number of species:     14

American Wigeon     2
Mallard     13
Northern Shoveler     2
Ring-necked Duck     7
Lesser Scaup     1
Bufflehead     1
Hooded Merganser     5
American Coot     2
Acorn Woodpecker     1
Western Scrub-Jay     2
American Robin     25
Golden-crowned Sparrow     2
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     6
Lesser Goldfinch     14


  1. Thank you for posting such beautiful pictures! Even when I can’t get out to bird during daylight, I know I can always come on Towheeblog and get my fill of bird pictures.

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