Closer to Home: Common Gadwall

As we have expanded our area of exploration near our home (because of the extensive hiking it takes to wear the new dog out), the other half and I have found several more local ponds and wetlands where we’ve been wandering.

In doing so, we’ve found 2 great hideyholes with lots of waterfowl (and hopefully some cool reptiles during the summer). The first place we found is located in the middle of a neighborhood and had lots of redheads, mallards, gulls, ringbill ducks, and these little grey ducks:

While we’d seen them before (or at least their rumps while they were diving), we hadn’t seen them so close up before. I thought they’d be some kind of really cool diving duck with an equally majestic name. Instead, we found out they are (laughably) called a ‘gadwall.’ From what we could find, they are supposed to be drab little things that were first described by Linnaeus in the 1700s, which is why the subspecies is called Anas strepera Linnaeus.

Since visitors here seem most interested in how we deduce the identity of the things we see (for better or worse), the lowdown on the gadwall is that it is the only grey duck with a white wing edge (called a speculum, if we’re being exact) and a black rump. It’s also smaller than a mallard and less fun to chase than a goose.

Next week I’ll show you some pictures from the other place we found, which is (in)conveniently located next to the local airport but is far enough removed to lack industrial noise. On that note, the semester is picking up rapidly (more so than last semester) so it looks like I’ll only have time to update on here once a week, twice if I’m lucky.


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