Duck, duck, coot


Male and female mallards with their bills tucked away. John Hendry Park (Trout Lake), Vancouver, Canada.

I took a whole bunch of fuzzy duck photos with my iPhone at Kits Beach last week. I tried to approach the ducks slowly and quietly but they refused to let me get closer than 3 meters. At home, I squinted and squinted, but I could coax no details from the images. Can you identify the ducks below? American wigeons?


Earlier this week, I went to Trout Lake with my sister, a little after sunset. There was just enough light to see the silhouettes of ducks and gulls gliding across the lake and occasionally flying into the sky. Some of the ducks had mallard-like bodies with a light streak on top of their heads. I squinted and squinted, but that was all the detail my eyes could capture in the dying light.

Yesterday, I dug my little Canon point-and-shoot out of one of my boxes. Optical zoom baby!!! The sky was overcast but it wasn’t raining. And there were many hours of daylight left. Lots of time to shoot some ducks. And coots. And some gulls and crows. But mostly ducks and coots. Note: I did not know that coots were coots until yesterday (thank you Google). They do not have webbed feet like ducks. Compared to other birds, their feet are quite large for their body size, with three long, three-lobed toes. See picture below (I didn’t take it; photo from


The first birds I saw on Trout Lake (north side) were a couple of American coots.



Then I headed up the path on the east side of the lake. The east and west sides of the lake are bordered by some marshes, while the north and south ends have beaches (south end for humans, north end for dogs). On the east side there is a boardwalk which crosses the marsh to a little dock on the lake. There is a bench on the dock where you can sit and watch ducks float across the lake or hang out near the marshes.


I saw two dabbling duck species – mallards and American wigeons.

male and female mallards

Male and female mallards.

male and female wigeons

Male and female American wigeons.

On the northwest side of the lake, there is third little beach. Many ducks and a few coots were gathered there, slowly floating around near the shore.




American wigeon male


male mallard on rock