In Search Of... New Life On The Water

June 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I love spring!  The waterfowl migration of April and May was a treat to photograph.  The songbird arrival of May was very good, too.  Now, many of the wildlife babies are being brought into the world.

One day, recently, I decided to spend a morning hoping to capture one of the many new Wood Duck families living on and around Lake Arthur.

It was nice to see the sun after a few days of rain and overcast skies.  While the earth beyond the edge of the woods was drying, the vegetation and ground beneath the thick canopy of leaves was not.  High humidity was my justification for that.  I remembered to spray all my exposed parts with "off" insect repellent but by the time I finished the hike to the lake shore, it was washed off from the waist down.

Upon parking at Moraine State Park, I could hear a chorus of birds in the trees.  As I neared the lake, I paused at a spot I frequent because of a high bird population due to good habitat.  I could hear the similar calls of the Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Yellow Warbler.  A Blue-winged Warbler, with its unusual raspy "bee buzz", was perched unseen high in a treetop.

A Common Yellowthroat made a brief appearance as it searched for insects along branches and under leaves.

Common YellowthroatCommon YellowthroatMale

Common Yellowthroat

 

This is the point I usually get distracted by the photo opportunities but this day I had a higher goal.  I wanted to photograph a Wood Duck family.

Still 100 yards or so from the cove known to me as a spot frequented by Wood Ducks, I could hear the soft chirping sound of either feeding Northern Cardinals or an Indigo Bunting.  I watched and finally found the source.  It was an Indigo Bunting in a tree about 40 yards away.  This is not my best shot of an Indigo Bunting but a bird this attractive shouldn't go unshared.

Indigo BuntingIndigo BuntingMale

Indigo Bunting

 

As I slowly and quietly approached the cove, I discover a few American Painted Turtles sunbathing on a log.  If they are startled, they will take refuge in the water.  They never left the log; an indication that I am getting better at moving about quietly. 

Eastern Painted TurtleEastern Painted Turtle

Eastern Painted Turtle

 

I remained still and partially hidden in the weeds and brush.  After about 30 minutes of quiet time, I saw movement in the dark, overgrown shoreline across the cove.  It was a Wood Duck hen.  Knowing how skittish Wood Ducks are, I set my Canon 5D Mark III shutter speed setting to high-speed quiet mode which reduces the shutter speed to about 3 per second.

It looks like she saw me but I wasn't sure.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Hen

 

When a Wood Duck senses danger, they will fly.  However, when ducklings accompany the hen, she will remain grounded and lead the family out of danger.

The hen wasn't threatened by me, so far.  Soon she began to swim into the open water.  A duckling was by her side all the way.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Hen and Duckling

 

As a total of eight ducklings appeared, mom separated herself.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Hen

 

She swam back and forth, seemingly keeping an eye on me, but still didn't feel threatened.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Hen

 

Mom watched as her young frolicked in the water, mostly keeping trees between the group and me.  On occasion, a couple ducklings wandered back to mom.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Hen and Ducklings

 

The ducklings stayed near the shoreline as if I wasn't there.

Wood DuckWood Duck

Wood Duck Duckling

 

After some time, I decided I had enough photos.  I collapsed my tripod, turned, and slowly walked away.  As I turned, mom began to rapidly call her little flock.  They quickly gathered together and began to swim away from shore.

What a satisfying day I had.  If you let yourself blend in with nature, there is no telling what you can experience.  Every day, memories are made.  When you experience what nature has to offer, those memories are some of the best.

Get out, enjoy, and make memories of your own.

Thanks for looking,

Dan


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