I hit the jackpot yesterday while Leonard and I were exploring some hidden ponds near the Quarry Trail at Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA). We saw and I was able to photograph two “new” duck species, both of which we occasionally see but up until now had evaded my camera.
Blue-winged teal (Scapula discors) are summer residents of Canada and United States. Long distance migrants, most of these small ducks winter in South America with a few remaining in the coastal regions of our southern states.
The male blue-winged teal has a black bill, wings and rear. There is a large white crescent shaped area in front of the eye and a white flank patch. The head is blueish grey and the buff body is covered in black spots. The wing coverts are powder blue and the secondaries are green. The blue and green on the wings are easiest to see in flight.
Blue-winged teal forage in very shallow water gleaning from the surface or swimming forward with the head partially submerged. Their diet consists of snails, bivalves, insects and crustaceans and plant material, especially seeds.
A synonym for S discors is Anas discors.
Although we saw a pair, I only photographed the male before the blue-winged teal flew off. We believe the pair is nesting in that little pond and plan to return in the hopes of photographing the female. We now have figured out how to approach the pond without alarming the teal.