Ducks on the Lake

It has been a delight to watch the farm and property awaken to spring. The light yellow winter pastures have morphed into blankets of vivid, almost neon green; and the sounds of birds and insects and amphibians are often loud in your ear. The flying acrobatics and distinctive cries of the barn swallows are now ever present, but particularly noticeable against the pinks and oranges of sunset.

We continue to struggle with whether to call our body of water a lake or a pond. I did some research and learned that the main difference between the two is whether there are aphotic zones, that is, areas of water where the light does not reach and thus photosynthesis does not occur. Ponds do NOT have aphotic zones whereas lakes do.

The unfortunate consequence of this new tidbit of knowledge is that we still do not know whether to call our 12-acre body of water a lake or a pond. So we waffle between the two. In fact, I might need to create a blog category called “body of water” rather than “lake” or “pond” as we continue to debate the appropriate term.

Irrespective of what we call that beautiful body of water — and it truly is beautiful, narrow and long, with its length running north and south, such that looking west out over the pasture, from the house and barns, you see the long line of water, and then the rise of the hills beyond it, from about 400 feet above sea level at the lake to about 500 feet above sea level at the treeline. The sunsets along that treeline and above the lake are breathtaking.

When my husband was hiking around the lake with the dogs this past week, he caught photos and video of a small flock of ducks that he had not seen before and could not identify. The most distinctive feature of these ducks, as they were swimming along the lake’s surface, was their orange-colored bills.

Imagine our surprise to learn that we had spied five black-bellied whistling ducks!! They are native to Mexico and South America, but are now being spotted further north into Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They are cavity nesters, like wood ducks, and the two species can share a nesting box because wood ducks are usually done with their breeding and babies by the time whistling ducks are nesting and raising families. So I am researching nesting boxes with the thought that I would love having both of those species on the lake. Wood ducks have always been my personal favorite of the indigenous duck species, given their gorgeous feathering and coloring; and these whistling ducks are also amazing in their coloration. Not only do they have what I consider orange bills (though they are oft described as “pink”), the combination of brown and black and white in their feathering is unique. The small bit of white that is visible on the ducks’ wings when they are swimming becomes this enormous and highly visible large white stripe when they are in flight, making it one of the easiest ways to identify them.

TLDR is we tend to call the lake a lake but do tend to often call it a pond, and it is attracting some interesting and unusual wildlife.

Published by thefemfarmer

Born in Chicago, grew up in Mississippi, and raised a family in Seattle. Coming back home to MS for part of the year to work on our new farm and spend time with my father. These are my voyages.

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