The holidays flew past faster than sparrows chased by a hawk, but before the year ended I managed to add one more lifer to my list, taking me to a grand total of 254. About an hour's drive to the north, at a small park with a lush pond and a thriving population of domestic ducks, mallards, and wood ducks, there lurks a trio of what I believe to be the most beautiful ducks in the world - Mandarin ducks.
While it might have taken awhile to get to the park through the I-15 construction corridor and other assorted road projects along the way, it didn't take long at all to locate the ducks as Beus Pond. There is a small dock jutting out into the pond, and just to the south, a stand of rough shrubbery. On the drab winter day I visited, a short look into that shrubbery revealed a riot of color that shouldn't have been among the gray sticks and murky mud, but there it was, a Mandarin drake nestled in for a winter's nap.
He, and his two companions, didn't stay napping for long. When another visitor arrived toting a bag of bread, all the ducks and geese on the pond, including the Mandarins, made for that dock and their share of the bounty. While I don't condone feeding ducks bread, there are no laws against it at this location and it was helpful to bring these beauties out of hiding and into a better position to see their brilliant plumage. They're smaller than I'd pictured for ducks with such grand colors, but there's no missing the rainbow they portray.
Quite the satisfactory lifer to end 2011. All told, I only managed ten new lifers in the year, what with selling a house, buying another, moving, computer difficulties, work shake ups, family crises and more, but 2012 is going to be a year I put more birding on my map. Though belated, Happy New Year to you all, and here's hoping there are more birds flying into your year as well!