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turf wars: Common Goldeneye

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Friday morning I spent a few hours at the state fish hatchery at Nimbus Dam, a few minutes from home. The hatchery's water outflow often contains small fish (or portions of fish), a fact not lost on the local birds. A portion of the outflow is let into a settling pond where it eventually makes its way through percolation and direct flow to the American River, a few meters below the hatchery.

 

Many of the local birds consider the settling pond to be a prime feeding area so among some species, the Common Goldeneye among them, 'turf' wars are fought over the best locations. Yesterday two pairs of Goldeneyes plus one bachelor male staked claims to the pond.

 

When a neighboring Goldeneye gets too close to your claimed area, the first level of threat is to lower the head and aim toward the interloper:

 

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Both male and female Goldeneyes use this threat posture, but if the neighbor doesn't back off the male will go to level two threat, where he tosses his head back and makes a sound that is best described as a mix of a purr and a soft growl:

 

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Note the female of this pair has maintained the level one threat posture. A physical battle often takes place underwater which is out of the range of my camera's design parameters. Once the winner is decided (home court is a big advantage) the loser makes a hasty retreat (next post, too many photos for one post)

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the losers' hasty retreat:

 

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which is followed by the winner's victory dance:

 

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all photos: R8/DMR, 560mm f/6.8 Telyt, shoulder stock & monopod. All comments welcome.

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Lovely series and thank you for taking the time do give us a narrative ....great stuff.

 

 

Thanks for sharing

 

 

Cheers, JRM

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