A quick look at the same spot I found a very cooperative pair of Blue-winged Teals showed me that they were there again. This time they were on the opposite side of the water, but I crawled my way into the same general location that I used before. It was the same time of day, so the light would be coming from the same direction. Early on, there were some American Coots around feeding in front of me. The overcast day made it easy to pull out the feather details in these birds.
After photographing the coots for a while, the Blue-winged Teals swam across the water to right in front of me. As before, these two friendly ducks were fearless and scarcely acknowledged my presence. They spent most of their time dabbling, feeding pretty continuously. That’s why the female here was all wet although their feathers do a great job of keeping the water on the outside.
There are different kinds of ducks out there and the different kinds have very different ways of feeding. The Buffleheads that I was photographing a few days ago are diving ducks. The Blue-winged Teals are dabblers. Dabblers mean that they stick just their heads under the water and dabble with their beaks to find submerged food. This leads to the classic image of a duck with its tail sticking up in the air. You’ll never see that from a diving duck, but dabblers like teals (including the ubiquitous Mallard) do it frequently. After dabbling for a while, the ducks need to fix their feathers which is what this drake was doing here.
As I mentioned before this pair of Blue-winged Teals was inseparable. They would stray at most a few feet from each other. Most of the time it seemed like the female was leading and the male would notice that she had gone a few feet away and he would rush to catch up to her. Sounds like some other species I know 🙂