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Posts Tagged ‘odd duck’

Whenever I am traveling for work I try to find some local wildlife to photograph. I am currently in Vienna, Austria and yesterday morning I went for a short walk in the Stadtpark, a park in central Vienna that is not far from my hotel. In the small pond there I found mostly mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), a species with which I am quite familiar.  One duck, however, really stood out because it had such unusual markings.

I focused my attention and my camera on this particular duck. Its shape looked to be similar to that of normal mallards and I wonder if this might be some kind of hybrid. I suppose that it could be another species altogether, though it did not look like any of the species in the photographic list I found on-line of the birds of Austria.

Whatever the case, this bird struck me as being a bit of an odd duck.

duck in Vienna

duck in Vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have occasionally been described as a bit of an “odd duck,” which Wiktionary defines as “an unusual person, especially an individual with an idiosyncratic personality or peculiar behavioral characteristics.” That definition certainly fits me (and most other wildlife photographers too, I suspect).

In a more literal sense, “odd duck” is a great way to describe the unusual-looking Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus). There are no other ducks in my area that look anything like these ducks, so identification is never a problem. Getting good photographs of one, though, can be a problem, because Hooded Mergansers are small and often skittish.

I spotted this handsome male Hooded Merganser yesterday at a suburban pond not far from where I live in Northern Virginia. He was part of a group of about a dozen or so Hooded Mergansers. Most of the members of the group were out in the middle of the pond, but this one hanging out nearer the shore and I was able to get off a few shots before he swam away to link up with the rest of his group.

hooded merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Walking along Rock Creek in Washington, D.C. on my way to the National Zoo yesterday, I came upon some ducks in a area of the creek where the water was still. I knew that they were ducks, but when I zoomed in on them I was surprised. One of them was the most unusually colored duck that I have ever seen, with a strangely shaped head, brightly colored feathers, and red eyes.

Male wood duck in Rock Creek

I did some research and discovered that this is a male wood duck. If you had asked me yesterday about wood ducks, I would have thought you were talking about those hand-painted decoys.

I managed to get a shot of the male wood duck swimming along with a female wood duck. The photo is not quite as clear as the first one, but it shows the difference in coloration between the male and the female. The female is more delicately beautiful than the male, who is really ostentatious in appearance.

Female and male wood ducks in Rock Creek

I seem to have a knack in discovering brightly colored creatures, whether they be grasshoppers or duck. I hope my good fortune continues.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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