Estero Llano Grande SP can be an excellent place to experience the beauty of waterfowl. The aquatic habitats are used by a number of shorebirds, wading birds, and several ducks. If you have never bothered to take a close look at ducks in breeding plumage (especially the males), go there and be prepared to see some of the most colorful birds in North America.
Male ducks of just about every species have iridescent, shining colors in at least some part of their plumage. See them in the right light and they are absolutely stunning. With this in mind, I went to Estero Laguna Grande early last week with the goal of getting some great photos of duck species. However, since the colors of the birds weren’t showing well in the overcast conditions, I tried again on Saturday and was pretty happy with the results.
In particular, I hoped to photograph Cinnamon Teal because in my opinion, this is one of the two most beautiful ducks in North America (the other being the Wood Duck).
Cinnamon Teal are said to be closely related to the Blue-winged Teal. Although the females look similar, the males couldn’t be more different. As can be seen in the picture above, the male Cinnamon Teal exhibist rich, copper-colored plumage with white and emerald green in the wings, and a red eye. These are truly stunning birds.
I also saw Blue-winged Teal and another related species, the Northern Shoveler. The bill of the Cinnamon Teal is larger than that of the Blue-winged but its nowhere near as big as the huge beak on the Northern Shoveler.
The other teal species in North America, the Green-winged Teal, was also present and I was pleased to get pictures of a male bird.
Some of the other birds seen that day were my first Ringed Kingfisher sighting in at least 6 months, Couch’s Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, dozens of Long-billed Dowitchers, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, a Little Blue Heron, and a few other birds.
The ducks will be gone soon but by then, I will be focusing on warblers, grosbeaks, vireos, and other spring migrants in breeding plumage in any case.