Field Journal 2

Date - 2/21/2020
Start time - 4:00 p.m.
End time - 5:30 p.m.
Location - Burlington Bay, Burlington, VT
Weather - 25 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny, low wind
Habitats - freshwater lake, city

I got to observe a probable ring-necked duck's flight for around thirty seconds. It took a bit to get off of the water, and it stayed within a few feet of the surface for its entire flight. Its wingbeats were fast and mechanical. The duck's wings were medium-length but very narrow and pointed.
I didn't get any pictures of the gull I observed, so it's not in my observations. Compared to the duck's flight, the gull's was more acrobatic, with slower wingbeats and a higher elevation. Its wings were also narrow, but considerably longer than the duck's.
We discussed the effects of wing-loading and aspect ratio on flying ability in class; the gull and duck provide good examples of how different species optimize their wing shape and size for their lifestyle. Ducks usually fly for short distances and spend most of their time in the water, so they can afford higher wing-loading, and while their high aspect ratio means they need more lift to get off the ground, they can still easily take off from the surface of the water. Gulls have lower wing-loading because they spend more of their time foraging, which means they need to be able to fly without expending much energy. They have longer wings to allow for dynamic soaring, but they still have a higher aspect ratio than, for example, a red-tailed hawk.
The fast, mechanical flapping of a duck's short wings are very characteristic of ducks, so even though I wasn't able to make out the markings on my "ring-necked duck", I could tell it wasn't a gull or a cormorant. The gull was even further away, but their wide wingspan, maneuverability, and combination of soaring and fast wingbeats are pretty distinctive.

Posted by hilarygood hilarygood, February 22, 2021 21:59

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Goosander Mergus merganser

Observer

hilarygood

Date

February 21, 2021 04:58 PM EST

Description

I’m not sure about the species for these ducks, because the setting sun behind them made it hard to see the colors.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Observer

hilarygood

Date

February 21, 2021 05:21 PM EST

Description

I saw three rock pigeons on the top of the Echo Center, but by the time I got my phone out, only one was left.

Photos / Sounds

What

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris

Observer

hilarygood

Date

February 21, 2021 05:06 PM EST

Description

I think this may have been a ring-necked duck. I saw one close up, and then the one duck flew out further into the lake to join a group of around seven other ducks.

Birds

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Birds Class Aves

Observer

hilarygood

Date

February 22, 2021 04:59 PM EST

Description

The sun was setting behind the duck I observed for this field sketch, so it was really difficult to tell how much of it was really black and how much of the black was just because the duck was in silhouette. I think I saw yellow-orange on the legs, but it could have been the setting sun reflecting on the ice.

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