Mallard, Roger’s Pond Park, Kennebunk, Maine, USA
I don’t generally get excited about Mallards. They are our most common duck here in Southern Maine…present wherever there is fresh water…ponds, rivers, and marshes. This pair, however, posed among the floating debris of a little backwater between Roger’s Pond and the street above, are just too picture perfect to pass up…especially in these days of self-isolation and limited photo ops 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Two obtrusive reeds removed in TouchRetouch.
It has been super cold the past few days (and nights) and the Mousam River has finally frozen up to the rapids at Roger’s Pond Park here in Kennebunk Maine. That is traditionally the edge of the ice in Winter, and is where the ducks gather to feed, and sometimes the Eagles too. This is the largest single flock of Mallards I have seen there this winter so far. Gotta love that iridescent green!
Sony RX10iii at 424mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in PhotoShop Express on my iPad Pro.
I wrote about this female Common Eider a few days ago. I watched her catch crabs just off the bridge near our beach where it crosses Back Creek for half an hour the other day, and watched her repeatedly avoid having her catch taken by a predatory gull. Her technique was simple. She took the crab where the gull could not go…back under water. This sequence catches the action. It reads as text would, left to right and down line by line.
Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro, and assembled in Frame Magic.
The first days at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico, the fields behind Coyote Deck were still dry. On Thursday they began to pump water in, and by Saturday there were at least 5000 ducks, mostly Mallards and Pintails, gathered to feed on the floating seeds and shoots. They flood those fields to bring Ducks and Cranes and Geese within easy viewing of Willow and Coyote Decks on the Festival weekend every year. Bosque del Apache is intensively managed all year for the wildlife, but during the Festival of the Cranes, yearly, for close to 30 years, they also manage for the people who come to view the wildlife. And, just as I always hope for a Snow Geese rising shot at Bosque, I have come to appreciate the “Ducks Away” experience off Coyote Deck. I watched the field flood daily and stopped along the road when I finally saw the congregation of ducks, and waited. Most years the ducks just continue to feed while I am watching, but they rise often enough to give me hope…like once in past 6 years 🙂 This year, as I stood there hopping from one foot to the other to keep warm, a Refuge truck came down the dike road on the inside of the tour loop and, as it passed, the ducks startled and took to the air. I had an intense few moments there until they settled again.
Sony RX10iii at 580mm equivalent field of view. Action and Flight mode (my own saved program). 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
There were a few birds active at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve when we visited last week. We watched a pair of Mallards on the river for 20 minutes as they worked their way down the far bank.
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom. Getting detail in the finest features of a Mallard’s back is a test of the limits of any camera!
The Hooded Merganser is my favorite duck. Not only is it elegant and beautiful, but I don’t get to see it that often, and it is incredibly difficult to photograph well. That, for some maybe slightly perverse reason, makes it my favorite 🙂 Camera exposure systems have gotten very sophisticated…with built in Dynamic Range Optimization (or whatever your maker chooses to call it) that reads the brights and darks in a scene or subject and automatically compensates for excesses in processing. This shot, thanks to the camera, not to me, is almost perfectly exposed. Detail in the back, and detail in the white. Impressive for a machine.
It was also taken, hand-held, at just shy of 4000mm equivalent field of view. That is an impossible magnification for any camera but the Nikon P900, with its excellent lens, excellent image stabilization, and excellent Perfect Image zoom digital enhancement to reach. 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
There is stone bench at the back of the meadow behind the Kennebunkport Land Conservancy headquarters building at Emmons Preserve that overlooks a window through the trees down to a bend in the Batson River. I suspect that if you had a day to sit on that bench, you would see a fair amount of wildlife through that window. On my last visit, I caught this female Wood Duck, the first Wood Duck I have seen on the Batson, paddling and calling in the little bit of visible open water. I waited for the male to appear, especially as the female was calling, but he did not show, and eventually the female gave up and flew off downstream. The reflections of the foliage in the rippled surface make it just slightly more than your average “portrait of a duck”. Or that’s what I think anyway. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/125 @ ISO 500 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
As I have mentioned, the Hooded Merganser is my favorite duck. Striking looks. Jaunty attitude. And just rare enough in my life to be really interesting. I see them in Florida, and on occasion in Texas, and on most trips to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico…I have even seen them in Maine, but not often. The easiest place to see them, for me, is at Viera Wetlands in Florida in January. They are always there in fair numbers, but they are also close. With patience, you can see them 30 feet from the foot of one of the dykes…even closer on occasion.
And, as I have also said before, they are not easy to photograph. It is very difficult to hold detail in both the white and the black and the eye, for whatever reason, never seems to be quite in focus. I think it has to do with the way it refracts light
This gentleman was cursing with his harem when he stopped to pose for his portrait. Canon SX50HS at 1800mm equivalent field of view (1200mm optical plus 1.5x Digital Tel-converter). f6.5 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 400. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Fill. –1/3EV exposure compensation.
Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
When I went out on Sunday to find some images of the snow Nemo dropped on us here in Southern Maine, I found a pair of Mallard ducks in the half-frozen Mousam River behind Roger’s Pond in Kennebunk. They had found themselves a little eddy against the drift that came right down to the water on the far shore. They did not look all that comfortable…or maybe that was just a projection on my part. I know I would not have been comfortable in their situation. This is the female. The male was hunkered down, head under wing the whole time I watched them, but the female was moving around, testing different spots…perhaps the male already had the only good one.
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Fill. –1/3EV exposure compensation. 1200mm equivalent field of view. f6.5 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 160. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
I spent the morning of Martin Luther King Day at Viera Wetlands in Viera Florida, one of my very most favorite places to photograph wildlife. Though the weather could have been better, Viera certainly did not disappoint. I came back with about 1200 exposures, which processed down to around 300 keepers…shooting both with the Canon SX50HS and with the Sony Rx100 behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope. I have a new adapter about ready to come to market that I am doing final testing on, and it worked very well.
This is also my very most favorite duck of all time…the Hooded Merganser. Such attitude! And it is always a challenge to photograph because of the extreme high contrast. This is the Sony Rx100 digiscoped…and it did pretty well. I love the feather detail provided by the all ZEISS optics and the Sony’s 1 inch sensor.
Program. Equivalent field of view: 2000mm. 1/500th @ ISO 125. f11 effective. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.