First, the “things to consider” from the last post are explained:
My tracks are on the water.
The tracks, or splashes, seem to be made by something striking the surface of the water, probably feet. Many creatures live in and around water, otters, beaver, muskrats, even raccoons take a dip every now and then. They all swim but do not walk or run on top of the water, no matter how fast they run. Basilisk Lizards (some call them Jesus Lizards, not to be confused with the rock band of the same name) are light enough and can get up enough speed to skim the surface, but unfortunately they do not occur in our area.
Flying fish, those delightful little fish with elongated pectoral and, sometimes, anal fins that glide above the water’s surface to escape predators, leave tracks similar to the ones in the photo. The fish frantically flap their tails back and forth to gain enough momentum to become airborne. They are amazing to watch, but you can only watch them from a ship or boat on the ocean. They don’t live in freshwater wetlands.
Our quiz creature is not one of the above.
It’s has to be some kind of waterfowl that left those tracks on the water.
My feeding behavior is a clue to my tracks.
Puddle ducks, those that feed by browsing the surface or by “tipping up” to reach the vegetation below the surface of the water in a pond, take flight from the pond in a sudden leap into the air.
Diving ducks typically feed on fish, mollusks, and vegetation well below the water’s surface. Those ducks, along with loons and grebes, coots, and alcids (puffins and stuff) need to run along the surface to get up enough speed for flight. Geese and swans also need a good run to get their big bodies into the air.
Recent posts to this blog might help determine who I am.
I didn’t mention loons, grebes, swans, geese (which do drop in every now and then), coots, or puffins in any of the recent posts. I did mention Mallards and Hooded Mergansers.
Don’t be discouraged, a little deductive reasoning should help you figure this out.
Mallards are puddle ducks feeding on plants and invertebrates on or just below the surface. They take flight by launching straight into the air.
Mergansers dive under the water for fish, tadpoles, and aquatic insects. They have to run across the water to get up enough steam for flight.
what a dapper dude he is!