Thursday afternoon I had a half-hour to kill at the Cypress Medical Center at Huffmeister and 290. I spent it walking around the two beautiful ponds located behind the main building. There is almost always something worth looking at on or near the ponds.
As usual, there were Eurasian-collared Doves, Red-winged Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackles, plus a Great Egret.
A male Mallard was busy swimming about and searching for food.
I don't usually bother to look at the various exotic ducks that have been introduced to the ponds but this time I couldn't help noticing that one such duck was accompanied by no fewer than 15 ducklings. That's quite a family to raise!
As always, the biggest attraction for me was the presence of several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. The Medical Center is the closest place to my house where I can be sure of seeing BBWDs in most months of the year.
I was lucky enough to catch one BBWD just as it decided to spend several minutes grooming. The grooming process was long and complex.
It also involved frequent dips.
Just when all the feathers had been perfectly arranged, the bird found a spot that absolutely had to be scratched.
Then one final dip and the bird was good to go.
BTW, I've been watching Black-bellied Whistling Ducks for years but I'd never before noticed that their bright orange bill has a gray-colored tip.