Readers’ wildlife photos

While evolutionist John Avise sends us a “Duck O’ the Week” every Sunday, I also get regular non-duck contributions from him (birds, of course, as he’s a keen birder). Rather than hold onto them until the duck series is done, I’ll post his latest batch. John’s notes are indented.

I’ll let you identify the species, and you should be able to get them all!

I recently (June 23, 2020) visited an urban park here in Southern California and found the surface of one of its ponds to be totally covered in a thick mat of Duckweed (Lemna minuta?).  I was somewhat surprised to watch birds go about their business as if there was no green blanket atop the water.  They clearly “knew” that the covering was superficial because they landed, swam, dove, and fished just as if it wasn’t there. The duckweed also afforded me a fine lime-green backdrop for several artsy bird photos.  Here are my pictures of several avian species on that pond:  Great Egret (Ardea alba); Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias); Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus); and Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).  Nobody was visibly eating the duckweed but neither did these birds seem bothered by it at all.

You better know these last two!



  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted June 29, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    This is really annoying… the last two pictures are so familiar but I can’t quite bring an identification to mind.

    I blame my age, and extended weeks of lockdown 😀

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 29, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Reasonably confident it is a duck.

      • Charles A Sawicki
        Posted June 29, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Not so sure about the duck identification, since it has strange green bumps on its bill.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted June 29, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Well exactly – mind you, Clark Kent without his spectacles… all he needs is a blue suit and a red cape and you would be hard pressed to tell he and superman apart.

  2. Gary Radice
    Posted June 29, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I love egrets, herons, cranes. So elegant. I always stop to stare when I see one.

  3. rickflick
    Posted June 29, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Nice ones. Here’s a good chance to compare the heron and egret. If you ignore color, they’re remarkably similar.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted June 29, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Love the water birds. I don’t think I’ve seen such thick duckweed. I have some turtles that love the stuff. I could use a bucketful. 🙂

  5. Posted June 29, 2020 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    When you get that particular shade of green on a water surface, there’s almost always a significant amount of Wofflia (watermeal). If you take a close look at the Mallard’s bill in the last photo, you’ll see that the plants covering the water include both a Lemna (duckweed) and a tiny Wolffia. In both cases, those ovals are the entire plant. And it can bloom, though none of these seem to be flowering.

    • john avise
      Posted June 30, 2020 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this very interesting botanical information. I’ve since looked up Wofflia and read that it’s the tiniest vascular plant on Earth!

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