A northern pintail drake swims in Ruddy Lake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington

After moving to Arizona I have fallen in love with having a swimming pool in the backyard, swimming has become second only to hiking as my favorite way to exercise in the summer heat, even though I’ll never look as lovely in the water as this northern pintail swimming in Ruddy Lake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

New Year’s Day

A male bufflehead dives under the water to feed

I started 2015 the way I ended 2014, visiting my favorite little wildlife refuge. We had a cold snap that froze some of the smaller ponds and this male bufflehead was one of two that were hanging out with a flock of American coots working a small section of open water near the road. Like other diving ducks, bufflehead flatten out their tails on the surface of the water and push themselves forward into the dive, using their beaks to break the surface tension of the water.

Lovely way to start the year.

Christmas Summer

A close-up view of a male northern shoveler in his summer plumage (but taken on Christmas)

Male shovelers transition through several different plumages in a year. According to my Sibley guide, this male’s plumage would typically be on display during the summer, but I took this picture on Christmas day. The males have lovely green heads in their breeding plumage, but in this look resemble the females in many ways.