Waterfowl on Flat Creek

I can’t say that Grand Teton National Park has an abundance of birds in the winter. I have seen very few species and very few numbers of birds. Therefore, almost all of my bird photography has been done immediately north of Jackson, along Flat Creek. Flat Creek flows thru the National Elk Refuge prior to crossing Highway 89/191 and meandering thru town. The amount of open water varies greatly by day and time of day. Extreme cold weather leaves very little open water and congregates the overwintering waterfowl. Warmer temperatures allow more of the creek to open up and the waterfowl spread out on the open water.

The Mallard is our nation’s most common duck. Scores of Mallards overwinter in the Jackson Hole vicinity. They are dabblers, meaning they tip forward in the water to feed. When they take flight, they jump up out of the water; unlike other species that run along the surface of the water to gain speed before becoming airborne.

Mallard pair coming in for a landing on Flat Creek, National Elk Refuge. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 371 mm, ISO 400, f/9, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

The males and females of many bird species are different in appearance. This definitely holds true for the Common Goldeneyes. The drakes and hens do not look alike. These are diving ducks.

The Common Goldeneye drake is flashy with its high contrast colors and iridescent green head. This bird is scratching its head. Flat Creek in Jackson, behind the DQ. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1250. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.
The Common Goldeneye hen is grayish brown in appearance with a warm brown colored head. This hen is flapping its wings. Flat Creek, National Elk Refuge. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/1600. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

Another common waterfowl species at Flat Creek is the Trumpeter Swan. If there is open water, you can just about count on seeing the Swans.

After bathing and preening its feathers, this Trumpeter Swan is flapping its wings. Flat Creek, National Elk Refuge. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/9, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

4 thoughts on “Waterfowl on Flat Creek”

  1. These are wonderful, Stan. I especially appreciated the common goldeneye photos: I am challenged by ducks and it was great to see good pictures of both the male and the female. I’m sure glad I don’t have to sit on a shelf of ice all winter!

  2. Beautiful swans, my favorite water birds. I saw some robins in my area yesterday. I heard them signing all winter but could not spot one. I am sure they winter over here and probably take shelter in the very dense pine trees in the area. I am not taking them as a sign of spring this year…it will be -20 by tomorrow night..I am getting anxious for spring to come…Hope you are enjoying yourself. I have one question..have you seen any wolves on this adventure?

    1. Sue, I usually see Robins at Swan Lake State Park (Carroll County, Iowa) all winter long.

      I hear there is a pack of wolves on the National Elk Refuge. But seeing them is quite a challenge unless you get lucky. I have not spent any time looking for them yet.

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