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Posts Tagged ‘Wood Ducks’

Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) in my area are really skittish and often take to the air before I have even spotted them—they make a very distinctive and loud noise when disturbed and taking flight. Last week at Occoquan Bay  National Wildlife Refuge, however, I was fortunate to spot a pair of wood ducks at the far side of a small pond and snapped off a shot of them before they could react to my presence. Fortunately I kept shooting and managed to capture some in-flight shots as they were taking off.

Wood ducks are probably the prettiest of all of the ducks where I live. The stunning colors and patterns of both the female, on the left, and the male are breathtaking, especially when the light is good.

wood ducks

wood ducks

wood ducks

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Usually it’s the female Wood Duck (Aix spionsa) who is most interested in a nesting box, but during a recent trip to Huntley Meadows Park, I spotted a male Wood Duck who also seemed pretty interested. Maybe he had been watching a lot of home improvement television shows and was thinking of the renovations he could do.

Wood Ducks

Of course, the female Wood Duck also had to check out the nesting box. After all, she is the one who has to lay the eggs inside of it. Judging from what I have seen in previous years, she will have sole responsibility for taking care of the little ducklings—the male seems to disappear after they are born.

Wood Ducks

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend I inadvertently spooked a small flock of little Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) while wandering about Huntley Meadows Park, but managed to get some shots of them as they flew away through the trees.

I just love the combination of the colorful birds in flight and the autumn foliage.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I watched and waited as a female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), perched on top of a nesting box at my local marsh park, decided when it was the right moment to enter into the box and work on her nest.

Initially I was surprised when I spotted the duck atop this particular nesting box, because Hooded Merganser babies had exited from the box only a week earlier. The female moved around a bit on top of the box, looking in both directions (second photo). Eventually she bent her head lower and lower, as if checking to see that the entrance to the box was clear (third and fourth photos.

When she finally did take off, she flew a little to one side (fifth photo) and made a tight little circle in the air. In the final shot, you can see the female duck with her eyes on the target, approaching it from just below the level of the bottom of the nesting box.

I led with the shot that I like the most. I am amazed that the duck can synchronize her movements so well and arrest her forward momentum to keep from banging into the back of the box (and to keep her wings from getting stuck).  The lighting kept changing as waited for the action to develop, to the point that I moved into manual mode, something that I only rarely do. I am happy that the sun was shining at the moment when she entered the box, because I think the shadow adds to the interest of the photo.

I missed seeing the Hooded Merganser duckings leaving the box—maybe I will be luckier with these Wood Ducks.

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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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