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Posts Tagged ‘ducks’

The sun was shining so brightly in Brussels one day last week that even the ducks looked to be wearing sunglasses. Although I can clearly see the eye in the white patch of feathers, my mind keeps getting tricked into thinking the eye must be hidden behind the dark lenses of the “sunglasses.”

I spotted these ducks in the same little pond adjacent to the botanical garden of Brussels where I saw the dragonflies that I wrote about in an earlier posting. These ducks sort of look like mallards, but the colors are really different, especially those of the black and white duck. Perhaps these are hybrids or domesticated ducks.

I’d welcome comments and thoughts about the identification of these ducks that were a welcome sight for me as I explored Brussels. I realize that I really miss nature and wildlife when I am in an urban setting.

duck in Brussels

Duck in Brussels

ducks in Brussels

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Every time that I see the outlandishly long bill and bright colors of a male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), I can’t help but think that this is a cartoon duck, created by Walt Disney for a Technicolor movie. Of course, these ducks are real and the bills serve a useful function in helping them to strain the water for food.

The male shoveler is easier to spot, because of its more distinctive coloration, but I was happy to be able to get some shots of a female too as this couple moved in and out of the reeds in one of the ponds at my local marsh. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Northern Shoveler pairs are monogamous and remain together longer than pairs of other dabbling duck species.

One of the interesting things that I noted is that the feathers on the male’s head are not the solid green that I am used to seeing. They seem mottled and I wonder if this is some kind of transitional plumage as breeding season approaches.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I don’t often see deer in the daylight at my local marshland park, so I was a bit surprised last week when a doe came running out of the cattails and began to pick her way thought the ducks that were foraging in the shallow water. She was immediately followed by a smaller doe, who was also running.

What was going on? What had spooked these two deer? I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. A small buck emerged and started chasing the other two deer through the water.

I don’t know if they were just playing or if the buck had amorous intentions, but it gave me the chance to get a few shots of what passes as “big game” for me.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s been months since I have seen any Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus), so I was thrilled when I spotted several pairs in the distance this past weekend, swimming around as shown in the second photo.

Unfortunately, they sensed my presence before I could get much closer and took to the air. Given the distance and the small size and speed of these ducks, I was surprised that I got a reasonably good shot of one of the males in flight. Hooded Mergansers always look a little cartoonish, but that effect is magnified when they are straining forward in flight. If you click on the first photo, you can get a better look at some of the details of the wings and some of the beautiful colors of this little duck.

The second photo was taken before the first and it gives you a general idea of the differences between the male and female of this colorful species of duck.

merganser_flying_blogmergansers_swimming_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Green-winged Teals (Anas crecca) are very small ducks and they are really skittish, but I managed to capture a photo of these three (and a mallard) yesterday shortly after they took off from the water. When they are in the water, you get only the slightest hint of the green on the wings (see my post from last year to see one Green-winged Teals at rest), but when they are flying, it’s easy to see why the got their name.

I went back and forth in my mind about whether or not to crop out the female mallard. Most people are familiar with mallards, so they can see how small the teals are by comparing them in the photo to the mallard. In addition, I like contrast between the green in wings of the teals and the blue in the wings of the mallard. However, the mallard is a bit far away from the three teals and there is nothing of visual interest in the center area of the photo. So I cropped a bit more and created the second image that eliminates the mallard.

Which version of the image works best for you?

green_and_blue_ducks_blog

green_and_blue_ducks_B_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was going through some of my bird photos, I realized that a majority of them feature the male of the species. The males tend to be more loud and flashy, so I guess it’s not surprising that they draw my attention much of the time. The female often has a more delicate beauty and coloration, as is the case with this female Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) that I photographed recently.

I added an image of a male Ring-necked duck that I photographed the same day to allow you to make your own comparison and judgments. It may be a cliché, but it is nonetheless true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), especially the males, are probably the coolest-looking ducks, but in the past few months the only ones that I have seen have been flying away from me, generally from branches on which they were perched.

I was not really expecting that I would see any Wood Ducks on the ground when I approached a tiny pond earlier this week. However, I did notice a little movement at the water’s edge and had just focused on that area, when suddenly a pair of wood ducks took off. I snapped off a few shots, not really expecting that they would be in focus and was pleasantly surprised at the result

The ducks in this image ended up pretty much in focus, especially the male’s head, his most prominent and colorful feature. The wings have some motion blur, but it’s not too distracting.

I’d like to say that my focusing skills are getting better, but I know that this shot was primarily the result of luck. It doesn’t really matter that much how I got the shot—what matters more to me is that I like the result.

woodduck_flying_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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