As a wildlife photographer, I tend to gravitate to the new or rarer opportunities. Clearly those experiences come with a greater opportunity to learn something interesting or to simply expand your portfolio. I try to be conscious of this tendency while out in the field since it can cause tunnel vision – a narrowing/restriction of your photo targets. The best example of this is on your first trip to Yellowstone compared to subsequent and even the later days of your first trip. If you have been there, go back and take a look at your first day’s shots. Guessing there are a lot of Bison in there. Now check the second, third and any subsequent trips. If you are like me, there is a logarithmic decline in those types of shots. Linda is very aware of this when it comes to my birding efforts. Takes a lot for me to take another picture of a Coot ha! I bring this all up because today’s post is one of those cases where traditional tunnel vision often occurs – fortunately, there’s a remedy!
The Mallard is abundantly common in my parts, well for that matter, all of North America. If you are birding and come upon a decent sized body of water you are most assuredly going to see one or two hanging out near the banks paddling lazily by. To uphold my golden rule, I’ll quickly snap a pick just to record a species spotting – little effort in making sure the camera settings are ideal. For Coots I’m tempted to shoot from the hip and not even worry about getting it framed – those things are EVERYWHERE. There is something that changes my nonchalant attitude to the Mallard, something that transforms a minutia of shooting time into minutes if not hours.
Hit the jump to see some more pics of this cuties!
That’s right, babies! I am an absolute sucker for young offspring. Call me a softie, but there is nothing cuter or fulfilling that seeing parents caring for their young. The obligation to nurturing and protecting those unable to fend for themselves is a universal trait between man and the wild. As I look through glass at sights such as this Mallard female and her chicks, all the day to day stress seems to fall away. This mother is tasked with protecting 10 of the most fragile things you could possibly imagine from dangers involved in the circle of life. I can’t imagine how hard this is compared to being on the top of the food chain. By the looks of this experience from Springfield Lake, IL back in May 2015, this Hen was excelling in her role – 10 ducklings
Nothing like having enough players in the family to play just about any organized sports game. Imagine a team full of jerseys that all say Donald on the back. So there I sat filling up the SD card with shot after shot of these fuzzballs. Extremely grateful their mother trusted me enough to show them off to me.
Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the only set of offspring paddling around Lake Springfield that day. Nope, everyone was out showing off their pride and joy. Linda and I were able to witness various stages of the Mallard from the adult and chicks above to the later stages of juvenile. My apologies, but I am not confident in my age identification of these stages. I just know that the one below is older that the ones above – still cute as hell.
Then there was another set of siblings that looked like they were beginning to gain a bit of independence from their mother. This other set would drift further out, exploring their surroundings and gaining confidence in their abilities.
Did a bit of research for this particular post – was trying to figure out if there was a way to tell sexes in the young feathering. From an article in the Washington Post (admittedly not my go to source for birding information), beak colors are the most reliable way to determine the sex of a Mallard. Drakes sport greenish-yellow bills and hens/ducks powder their bills with black splotches on an orange base., Taking that advice in hand, I would surmise that the juvenile in the top of the shot below is a female and the nearest one at the bottom is on its way to reaching Drake status.
Oh no, I’ve used up all my pictures. Hopefully your heart melted as much as mine did over these you feathers. Let’s all assume these chicks and juvis made it to adulthood and enjoying their own relaxing swim near the banks of a river or lake near you.