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Posts Tagged ‘mallard 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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Valentine’s Day is past, a holiday that celebrates romantic love through the giving of cards, flowers, and candy.  Yesterday, though, I was witness to a deeper, more intimate sense of love and devotion as I observed a couple of Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos).

Side by side, almost touching, they moved slowly though the water in synchronized movements, with one dipping its bill in the water and the other keeping watch. They seemed so happy together, alone in their own little world, amidst a flock of loudly honking Canada geese.

It may be my imagination, but they look like they are smiling in this photo.

duck_couple_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most of the time when I try to photograph ducks in flight, I end up with shadows and muted colors. Last weekend, though, the light was right and I was able to capture a small group of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in full color. They were pretty far away, but I like the formation that I was able to capture. There are four males and one female, and one of the males is a straggler who seems to have trouble keeping up with the group.

straggler_blog

Click on the photo to see it in higher resolution.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you ever find yourself in such beautiful light that you are almost desperate to find a suitable subject? Saturday morning, for a brief period, the rays of the sun were producing wonderful light and incredible reflections in the water of my local marsh, reminding me of some of my favorite Monet paintings.

I looked all around and finally spied this male mallard duck and his mate and they became my models. They didn’t take instructions very well and wouldn’t stay still in one place for very long, but I was able to get some shots that I like.

mallard1_blogmallard2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Capturing images of ducks in flight has been a lot more difficult for me that photographing geese. Geese are larger, fly more slowly, and are more predictable than their skittish duck counterparts.

My camera also seems to have a problem grabbing the focus of these smaller birds when they are moving. Nonetheless, I still spring into action whenever ducks take to the air and occasionally I manage to get shots that are pretty much in focus. Here are a few such images of mallard ducks from this past Friday.

ducks1_blogducks2_blogducks3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past weekend there was a thin layer of ice on many of the little ponds at my local marshland park. I thought the ice would deter the migrating ducks and geese from stopping in, but I was wrong. Perhaps they just needed a break from flying.

It seemed unusual enough that I took some photos of the ducks walking on the frozen water. The first two images are pretty straightforward, but I tried to be a little creative in framing the third image, as a female duck contemplates the vast expanse of the ice in front of her.

I even tried to capture a duck landing on the ice in the last photo. A female duck is making a soft landing as her male companion prepares to come in right behind her. It’s not really sharp, but it gives you the idea. I had previously thought that the ducks would aim to land in the water that had not yet frozen, but obviously the ducks know what they are doing.

I never know what I will find when I venture out into nature—it’s one of the reasons that I keep returning to the same places, in hopefeil expectation of new surprises.

cold_duck1_blogduckwalk_blogice_duck_blogice_landing_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I mentioned in another post, Monday there was ice on the small ponds that a week before had been full of migrating ducks. The ducks were all gone, it seemed. As I was passing the beaver lodge, however, I notice a small bit of bright orange on a log across the beaver pond. I looked through my telephoto lens and realized that what I had seen were the feet of a female duck, perched on the log that jutted out into the water. She was so well camouflaged that I almost missed see her. When I moved to one side, I noticed a second duck, a male, right behind them. They were huddled together, with their heads tucked in between their wings, resting and sharing their body warmth on a cold morning. Why were they alone? Had they become separated from a larger group? Were they on their way to another destination?

There was something very tender, almost intimate about this scene, about the closeness of this duck couple. The environment might be hostile and threatening, but they could face it together—at least they had each other.

Facing the world together

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This duck tale has a happy ending, as two Hooded Merganser duck couples paddle gently down the stream, but a potential crisis had been averted only moments before.

It began like this. Five Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), three males and two females, were swimming upstream. Two of the males were in the lead, while the other male seemed to be carrying on a conversation with one of the females. Their course had them in the partial shade, not far from one of the banks.

At the same time, four Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus), two males and two females, were headed downstream in perfect formation on a collision course with the Mallard ducks.

What would happen when the groups met? Would there be a confrontation? Would they exchange information about the attractions of the places they had just passed through? Who has the right-of-way in situations like this?

The signals were a bit ambiguous at the first encounter, as one of the male Mallards tried to have a conversation with one of the male Hooded Mergansers, who had turned away. All eyes were turned on the two representatives. Would they be able to negotiate an agreement? If a fight broke out, it was clear that the Mallards had an advantage in both size and numbers.

Who know what was said, but it appears that an agreement was reached and a possible confrontation was avoided. The ducks peacefully passed each other and continued on their separate ways.

The first photo showed the Hooded Merganser ducks after the encounter with the Mallards, so sequentially it should go here. Did you notice that the duck formation had changed and that the males were now in the lead? Was this a protective, chivalrous gesture on their part?

Of course, I may have completely misread this situation. Perhaps the male duck ego is less fragile than the human one and the two male ducks were simply asking each other for directions when they met in the middle of the stream.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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