Thursday, October 1, 2009

BIRDS Wood Ducks

Male and female Wood Duck on pond filled with duck weed

Nailed to trees and posts near rivers and lakes, one often sees nesting boxes with a fair size hole cut near the top on the front. I was told in 1998 when I first saw them, the houses were for Wood Ducks. Old Trunks has lamented she had not seen a Wood Duck yet.....until the last Friday and Saturday in September.

Flash back to life in Lawrence, KS and a client who had durable medical equipment needing service. The gentleman's hobby was to carve water fowl including my then known favorite, Mallard males. I was so impressed with the perfection of the Mallard that I bought one for my son for $100. The gentleman also had Wood Ducks. Yet, in my ignorance, the carving and painting appeared to be an imaginary species. How could anything have so many colors?

We have fished Munson Lake near Detroit Lakes for the last several years and driven by the pond covered with duck weed. There have always been ducks of some sort there but this time was different. Tom, being a former water fowl hunter, knows the species by shape or how they swim, or something else that is admirable. On Friday, he slowed the truck with the boat in tow and stated, "Well, I'll be darned, those are Wood Ducks!" He pulled into the Lake Sally launch area, and out again to be lined up with the pond with a heavy cover of trees and brush to 'hide' us from the skittish birds in the water.

He had previously put my window down. Getting out of the truck would mean they would fly or move to the center too far away to photograph. It was going to be a tough assignment. They were not in clear water, rather in oatmeal like duck weed which is a very pale green. If I didn't wait for the camera to focus on the duck, all I would get were branches. The longer I waited the more skittish I WAS.

Any confidence I had to go on came from incredible luck I had during the summer with loons and herons, geese and swans. I drew from that. The problem is that what I got and what I thought I got were miles apart. This species has so many colors and are so distinct in their markings that, without that, one misses. I did not have a back ground to shoot against, nor was there open water to make the duck itself show. It didn't help that I was nearly at seizure stage with excitement at seeing these magnificently marked water fowl for the first time. They weren't imaginary after all!

Happy Birthday, Rachel!


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