The Perfect Duck Day...

Saturday morning was looking like a perfect duck day. There are certain elements that I look for to determine if a day will be great for duck photography. The key element is little to no wind. Having no wind creates perfect calm water allowing for great reflections. The next element is sun. Like most photography I prefer no harsh sun but you also don't want a dull day because it creates more of a flat grey color in the water. You always want to look for a pond or lake that is surrounded by nice vegetation that will help create beautiful colors in the water. Fall is always a great time for duck photography as the surrounded fall colors create a beautiful setting. Oh and of course Ducks..lol

Nevilles Pond in October is my go to spot for duck photography until the winter months. Nevilles pond is one of the only places I know where you can get great up close looks at Wigeon. Normally a small group of about 20-30 wigeon show up at the pond for roughly 2 - 3 months. Once Nevilles pond freezes over the wigeon head to a local golf course were it appears they are able to get enough food to last the winter. 

Here is a quick snap I took of Nevilles pond later that day just so you can see the area I was shooting in.

I personally always bring feed for the ducks to entice them to come into the area I would like to photograph them in. The wigeon normally will not approach unless you have food. They are content staying out in the middle of the pond. Once they know you have food they will gladly take the free handout.

Upon my arrival I was happily surprised to see a lone male Tufted duck. Our divers are slowly starting to show up but the large numbers of divers will not appear until later in the fall/winter. I was unsure if the Tufted would approach as he appeared skittish but once I threw out some food he made a short flight in.

It was nice to see the Tufted in a more pleasing setting then the usual winter scenes I've had to photograph them.

It didn't take long for him to get comfortable with my presence and he often came so close I was unable to focus on him with my 500mmF4.

I should mention that for these images I was waist high in the water with my chest waders on. This allows me to get very low to the water and it also seems to make the ducks even more comfortable with me. 

After getting some nice images of this Tufted it was time to move on my main subjects. The Wigeon. We have two types of Wigeon here on the island. Both the American and Eurasian. The Eurasian is much harder to find and there are only usually a handful reported on the Avalon.

After throwing out some food 6 or so American Wigeon came in for a nice morning breakfast.

The females were the first to appear

Then the stunning males began to arrive


After a full belly a few of the wigeon decided to rest along the rocks only feet away from me. Having them so close I figured it was a nice opportunity to grab some head shots. 

Here is one of the female

and the Male doing his beautiful Whistle type call

About mid morning when the lighting was starting to get too harsh and I was contemplating leaving a few of the wigeon seemed to get excited and began to call. Before I could stand up from the tall grass to see what might be happening a large flock of wigeon arrived. Among the flock was a beautiful immature male Eurasian Wigeon. I made sure to remain as still as possible because I know who skittish they can be around humans. The male spent a short time feeding then decided to clean his feathers...I was anticipating a wing flap and sure enough...

I nailed it.

If you have done any duck photography you will know that 90% of the time the duck is facing backwards when it does a wing flap, or you clip the wings or another duck gets in the frame but this one turned out perfect. I couldn't have been happier as this was my first time photography this species. 

The lighting was now too harsh and it was time to call it a day. 

During this session I played around with a few new settings..U1 & U2 and Auto-ISO. Later this week I will do a short write up on my experience with these settings and my thoughts.