Friday before going in to work, I noticed a good concentration of Great Egrets at the NW end of Otter Slough CA. at the back of the field/pool #35.

I have seen large numbers of Wood Ducks come from that same area earlier this summer. So figuring that there must be still standing water, I decided to walk the length of the field back to check it out after work.

As I approached the standing water, series after series of Mallards and Wood Ducks were taking to wing, circling in wide loops and coasting in, landing in the same pool. They seemed not to be wary of me until I came within 80 yards of the water's edge, but I believe I was mostly concealed by the tall grasses and vegetation between us, as no alarms were sounded.

As I scanned the portions of water that were viewable, I noticed several duck perched on a fallen tree. Hoping for Fulvous Whistlers, I studied one by one. Mallard, Mallard, smaller duck - wood duck, different patterned smaller-than-Mallard duck. When it turned its head, there was no doubt that upon seeing the large bill this was a Northern Shoveler. I continued to watch as it preened a bit. I was able to see the large light blue wing patch. I only saw this one Shoveler.

Oddly enough, three weeks ago, this was the same area I had seen a family of Hooded Merganser, but they were absent from sight Friday.

Pre-fall migration update of premises conditions.
Areas of O.S.:
Many fields/pools have been drained and planted or soil turned/brush hogged.
Pool #22 (after the heavy storms that came though earlier in the week) has more water and slight mud flats - 3 Solitary Sandpipers were present and a calling Greater Yellowlegs was heard from this location as well.
Pool #24 still has standing water where a minimum of 6 American Coots still call home (for now) as well as several families of Pied-billed Grebes (minimum of 14 present).
MDC is preparing some fields for fall Teal hunting season by turning the soil under.
The MDC has closed and locked the gate at the North end of Frog Pond Lane - the road that runs North/South along Dead End Ditch.
Pool #R7 on the South end of O.S. was being drained prior to the rains and is host to hundreds of dead carp as well as 40+ Great Blue Herons and minimum 4 distant Black-necked Stilts.

Good Birding!

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
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