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Archive for the ‘Baby photography’ Category

One of the most exciting things that I have observed during this brief trip to Brussels has been a family of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) swimming in a small pond at the Rouge-Cloître park. I have seen swans a few times before in the wild, but I had never seen baby swans. As you might expect, they are really cute. Both of the parents seemed to be very attentive to the little ones and stayed close to them at all times. The baby swans, technically known as cygnets, seemed to be very curious and energetic and interacted a lot with each other as they explored the world.

Swan babies

Swan babies

Swan babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring the Rouge-Cloître (Red Cloister) Park in Brussels, Belgium last weekend, I could hear some excited peeping coming from a heavily-vegetated area at the edge of a pond. Peering through the reeds, I could just make out the dark shapes and brightly-colored beaks of a pair of adult Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus).

As I kept watching I began to see several smaller shapes and realized there were baby chicks with the parents—there were at least three chicks and possibly more. The chicks and the parents remained mostly out of sight, but occasionally I got a partial glimpse of one of them through the vegetation as they moved about and managed to snap off a few shots.

I am also including a shot of an adult moorhen that I spotted earlier in the day at another park, in case you are not familiar with this bird species. In the photo you can’t help but notice that Common Moorhens have large feet that lack the webbing that we are used to seeing in ducks.

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When you have as many little ones as this Canada Goose family (Branta canadensis), you have to take roll call almost all of the time to make sure that everyone stays safely together.

I was trying to focus on the group of goslings that were following the adult when the adult abruptly stopped and turned around. The little ones drifted forward and I ended up with this shot. I love the way that the attentive parent is almost at eye level with the cute little babies and has its neck almost fully extended.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While I was trying to get some more shots of the baby Barred Owl (Strix varia) at Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend, I managed to get some shots of one of the parents. I returned to the park the day after I got some shots of the owlet in the rain and word had gotten out about the baby owl. There were quite a few photographers present, including several with long lenses and heavy tripods. It was a far cry from the more intimate one-on-one session I had the previous day with the owl.

Fortunately there was somewhat better light than the day before and one of the parents was hanging around, keeping an eye on the baby, and was not hard to spot. Here are a couple of shots of that parent. It’s fascinating for me to note how the owl’s shape changes when it is hunched over versus sitting tall.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

I never got a really clear look at the baby owl that day. Most of the time it sat on a distant tree with its back to me. Occasionally it would glance slightly over its shoulder and I got this shot during one of those occasions. It gives you a general ideal of the owlet’s body shape compared to the more elongated body of the parents.

Barred Owl

I thought I’d finish off this post with a couple more shots of the baby owl from my first encounter. The owl was closer to me, but I was shooting upward in a rather steep angle. The perspective is a little distorted, but you certainly get a good view of its fuzzy bottom.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Like so many others at Huntley Meadows Park, I have fallen in love with this Hooded Merganser family (Lophodytes cucullatus), with its hyper-vigilant Mom and nine growing babies. Occasionally I will see them all huddled together on a fallen log, but only rarely do I a clear look at them. The ducklings are be full of energy, ready to wander in multiple directions, and the Mom seems to be more than fully occupied watching out for predators and keeping the group together.

Hooded Merganser family

hooded merganser ducklings

Hooded Merganser ducklings

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled on Friday morning to spot this Wood Duck mother (Aix sponsa) with thirteen little ducklings (if I counted right) at my favorite marshland park, Huntley Meadows Park. A few days ago, one of my fellow photographers was able to capture some shots of the moment when some newly fledged wood duck babies were called out of the nesting box by their mother and dropped into the water below. I suspect this is the same family, although I have been told that there are plenty of eggs in some of the other nesting boxes, so there may a lot more baby ducks soon.

I hope that all of the cute little ducklings can remain safe, but I remember with a tinge of sadness the experience of past years when I watched the number of babies decrease over time. The environment is hostile for these vulnerable little ones, with water snakes and snapping turtles as well as hawks and other birds of prey.  It has to be tough on the mother duck to try to keep them together and out of danger and it seems like she has to raise them on her own—the father duck does not seem to participate in the process.

Wood Duck babies

Wood Duck babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Make way for ducklings! Yesterday I finally saw my first Mallard baby ducks of the season at Huntley Meadows Park. I have spotted Canada Geese goslings multiple times this month and they are already growing quite large.

Mallard ducklings

The ducklings look so small and fragile and the Mallard Mom (Anas platyrhynchos) seemed to be doing her best to keep them tightly bunched together as they made their way slowly through the shallow waters of the marsh. When they paused for a moment, though, some of the ducklings wanted to explore their surroundings. When I zoomed in for a close-up shot of the babies, one of them wandered out of the frame, leaving only four to be featured.

This Mom is going to be really busy raising and protecting these little ones.

Mallard ducklings

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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