This morning, we got a call from the mechanic in Toledo, saying he was done with the scheduled maintenance on my car. Always conscious of my 365 challenge on Flickr, I took my camera. After getting the car, DH went on home in the truck and I headed for South County Park.

Just across the Cowlitz River from Toledo, South County Park is centered around a former gravel pit that is now a lovely 14 acre pond. It is stocked with fish, has a public boat ramp (though I have never seen a boat in the pond), and has four fishing piers which are also good for watching the resident waterfowl.

This local gem has a paved footpath and I never fail to enjoy myself when I stop there. I tend to forget about it and drive elsewhere to enjoy parks and photograph waterfowl. Why is that?

When I turned into the parking lot, I had to take care to avoid a large white duck at the side of the road. It’s head was tucked under a wing and it was standing on one foot, snoozing away. I walked right up to the duck and asked it if it was hurt in a soft voice so as not to startle it. Slowly, it straightened its neck and put its foot down, totally unperturbed by me or my camera. It is the size of a large Pekin duck and looked rather like one, except for the black markings. I think it must be the product of a mixed marriage.

My best guess is that this is a hybrid Pekin duck.  She was trying to nap beside the road when I woke her up to ask for a photo.
My best guess is that this is a hybrid Pekin duck. She was trying to nap beside the road when I woke her up to ask for a photo.

There was a small flock of Canada Geese at the far end of the pond, but I saw no need to zoom out the camera lens when there were so many photogenic semi-tame birds nearby.

The American Coot is not really on theme with this blog, as it is not a duck, but no western Washington pond is complete without some.

American Coots are a common sight throughout western Washington, wherever there is calm water.
American Coots are a common sight throughout western Washington, wherever there is calm water.

It was close to noon when I was there, and it seemed that most of the birds had filled their crops and were intent on bathing and personal grooming. What better opportunity to practice capturing water movement, which is turning out to be quite a challenge?

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard cleaning up after playing "Chase Me" in the pond at South County Park, Toledo, WA.
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard cleaning up after playing “Chase Me” in the pond at South County Park, Toledo, WA.

Splish Splash

Then, I spotted a big black-and-white duck dabbling along the edge of the pond. At that point, he decided to stop eating and swim around one of the fishing piers that juts out into the pond.

My first sighting of a new-to-me duck.  According to what I found on Wiki, this is a Muscovy Duck, native to Mexico.  Sighted at South County Park, Toledo, WA.
My first sighting of a new-to-me duck. According to what I found on Wiki, this is a Muscovy Duck, native to Mexico. Sighted at South County Park, Toledo, WA.

Muscovy Duck

I had no idea of this huge duck’s identity and it wasn’t in my Sibley Field Guide to Birds, but Wiki had it:

The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations have established themselves in the United States, particularly in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and South Florida as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy ducks are found in New Zealand, Australia, and in parts of Europe.

They are a large duck, with the males about 76 cm (30 in) long, and weighing up to 7 kg (15 lb). Although the Muscovy duck is a tropical bird, it adapts well to cooler climates, thriving in weather as cold as −12 °C (10 °F) and able to survive even colder conditions.

Then, it was time to go home and get something accomplished for the day, which I still haven’t done, what with photo processing and Muscovy research. That’s okay. This is one of the reasons I retired, to have the freedom to follow a whim.

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