I decided to go out birding today and finally settled on San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary . I started in the Butterfly Garden and went along the cement barriers to the first pond. As I walked out to the fourth pond, I saw a large group of Northern Shovelers swirling round and round in a circle. This is not a behavior I have seen much about on the web, but I often see one or two whirling about in a circle out at Huntington Central Park or here at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
They whirled for quite a long time.
There were males and females and some males in what looked like the end of eclipse plumage. They may have just been dirty. Northern Shovelers often get mud all over their heads.
Some stayed at the fringes. Also at the fringes were an American Avocet or two and a few Eared Grebes.
I thought I might have seen a female Blue-winged Teal or two, but some of the females had very dark bills and some seemed to have broken eye rings even though they were obvious Northern Shovelers. I wonder if a few were hybrids.
Check out the video above to see them in action.
Northern Shoveler--Anas clypeata from OC Birder Girl on Vimeo.
Here is a clearer view of the Northern Shoveler. So when you are out birding in Orange County and see ducks swirling in a circle, you are most likely seeing Northern Shovelers.