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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

American Coot aka Marsh Hen

Today's surprise snowfall was a firm reminder that winter is just around the corner.  This was one of those days where the temptation was strong to just stay indoors and enjoy the fresh snowfall from the comfort of the living room.  Well maybe that would have been the smart thing to do but that just isn't the way we roll.  We decided to load up the camera gear and see what kind of animals were around.  We checked out the local elk herd but they seemed to be sitting pretty tight and probably resting comfortably under some thick hemlocks.  Our next mission was to check out a spot where a big old bruin has been frequenting but that didn't pan out either.  So far it's not looking like it's going to be a very productive day.

We decided to check out a couple area ponds and reservoirs to see if there were any waterfowl that stopped for a rest on their southern migration.  As we approached the one large body of water we spotted a couple birds but they had made up their mind that they didn't want their picture taken.  One bird that we watched through the binoculars was definitely a Loon.  A Loon is a diver and can travel quite a distance underwater.  After watching this Loon for a few moments it was obvious he wasn't getting close enough for a decent picture.

Our next subject was a Grebe.  This little duck is a diving duck and he was anxious to demonstrate his skills.  For a good 15 minutes we watched this little duck and tried to anticipate where he would surface so we could be ready to snap his picture.  Let's just say that the Grebe won this little game.  He always outsmarted us and at times would dive and we never did see where he would surface. 

After playing "chase the Grebe" for a good 15 minutes we spotted something that we just had to check out in a nearby wetland.  As we scanned the wetland with the binoculars we spotted a dozen male and female Mallards casually swimming along.  But there was another bird close to the right side that definitely caught our eye.  We worked our way over towards that side of the pond and got a pretty decent look.  We identified this duck as an American Coot.  These are real cool ducks.  They have a whitish bill with a grayish bad around the tip and a featherless shield just above their bill at the front of their head.  In fact this is where the saying "bald as a Coot" was derived from.  Their feet aren't webbed but instead they have floppy lobed toes.  The American Coot can actually run pretty fast on land and seem to run on the water to take flight.  Seeing this American Coot made our day outdoors worthwhile. 

We ended our day by once again trying to get some close up pictures of the albino's that we have been watching.  One of these days we will be in the right place at the right time and get some great images but today would not be that day.  All in all though it was a great day to be out and about enjoying nature.

American Coot
I have tons of excuses for these being bad pictures.  It was snowing hard and mixed with rain.  I was shooting with my tripod fully extended which doesn't make for a stable platform for sharp images.  Aside from that it was a dreary day which made for slow shutter speeds and a duck that bobbed continuously.  If it sounds like I'm whining it's because I am.  Poor pictures or not, we were still thrilled to add a new duck to our photo collection.
As I said, their feet are rather unusual.

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