My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Ladies and gentlemen, DUCK AGAIN!

Here’s another mostly photo post, of mallards I came across on a Sunday evening as I was out hiking. The number of ducks in this flock was pretty amazing, I have no idea how many mallards there were in this small section of a pond. I was struck by both the number of ducks, and all the green heads and orange feet I was seeing. You can click on the photos for a larger version if you like. They aren’t the greatest photos, I will admit that, but I like them.

Lots of mallards

That gives you some idea of the number, there were even more off to the left. But, it doesn’t show the colors too well, so I zoomed in closer.

Lots of mallards

That was a little better, but I zoomed in further to capture more of the colors.

Mass of mallards

I wanted to get closer to catch the reflections of the green heads and orange legs in the ice, but the flock took off.

Mallards taking flight

The sheer number of the ducks all taking off at one time was something! I know this one’s a bit blurry, but it suggests motion, and I kind of like it. I started panning with the flock for this one.

Mallards taking flight

By panning, I froze most of the ducks’ motion, this one looks better if you click it to see it full size. It almost looks like the ducks are fake.

More mallards taking flight

I was trying to capture both the number of ducks and their colors, but I zoomed all the way to 300 mm for this one.

Mallards in flight

Like I said, not the greatest photos, but I’m not sure how one goes about taking a close up of over 100 ducks taking flight at one time. I’m not sure that a still camera could ever capture the moment as well as I would like, for it was not only the sight of that many ducks, and their beautiful colors, but the sounds of all those wings flapping along with all the quacking that really made this a special moment.

On a side note, I didn’t see a single deer that day, and didn’t see much in the way of fresh deer sign. I don’t know if the deer have shifted their home range somewhat to take advantage of a food supply, or what the deal is. I do know that I have used the same deer trail too often lately, other people are beginning to use it as a trail as well. Maybe the increased human traffic has caused the deer to shift where they travel. I’ll be going back soon to check.

Here’s an update since I first started this post last week. I went back again this Sunday, and did manage to find a few deer, bedded down on the other side of the creek from where I was.

Whitetail doe bedded down

Whitetail doe bedded down

That’s as close as I could get without wading across the creek, and while it was warm for December in Michigan, I didn’t really want to ford a stream in 40 degree weather, not without waders. 🙂 But, even though I spotted this small herd, there wasn’t nearly as much deer sign in the area as there has been all summer.

On the other hand, there was a lot of fresh coyote sign, especially in the area where I used to see the deer most often. I do believe that the deer have shifted where they feed and bed down in response to the coyotes moving into the deer’s territory. I wandered around an area I have never been before, and saw quite a bit of fresh deer sign there, and not much coyote sign.

Talking to some other regulars at the park, I learned that a woman walking her two small dogs had been followed by a coyote, and that it had scared her badly. The regulars also thought that the deer were moving out of the park, for they hadn’t been seeing as many.

I’ll have to check on it further, but that’s the way it looked to me this week. Since coyotes are relative newcomers to my area, I am not that well versed in the interactions between them and deer.

I also went back to the pond where the duck photos were taken, it was a bright, beautiful day, and I thought that better light may make for better photos, yes and no.

Mallards in the afternoon sun

Zoomed in to 300mm, the green heads of the male mallards really stand out well, but there weren’t as many ducks there at the pond as last week. I was disappointed that the shots I took of the flock taking off don’t look better.

Mallards taking flight

Somehow or another, the ducks are “lost” in the background of the photos I took this week. I think I zoomed out too far since there weren’t as many ducks, and I was trying to get as many in the frame as I could.

Photography is a funny thing, in the earlier shots in bad lighting, the ducks “pop” as if I had superimposed them into the photo. Go back and get the same species of ducks in what would seem to be better lighting, and the background comes out great as far as exposure and sharpness, but the ducks don’t stand out at all.

I did get a good shot of a female in flight though.

Female mallard in flight

Live and learn, that’s why I love nature and nature photography, there are always new things to learn and try to understand. From the interactions between deer and coyotes to how light plays off from the various species when you photograph them. I know I will never learn it all, the perfect excuse to keep going back time and time again.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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2 responses

  1. the last shot is amazing!
    xandi

    December 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  2. Northern Narratives

    I like ducks. Our ponds are frozen now, so the ducks are gone. Thanks for the photos 🙂

    December 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm