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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Photographing the elusive Woody

As the spring migration got into full swing this year we spent countless hours and traveled many miles searching out as many varieties of ducks as possible.  We couldn't pass a swamp, lake or river without glassing it thoroughly in hopes of spotting a different species of duck.  Unless a person has actually done this they could never imagine how many different species there are with each being so different from another.  Most people will instantly see an image of a Mallard in their mind when someone mentions duck.  No question about it being a very common and beautiful duck but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

This Blog entry will be dedicated to the duck that tested our dedication and patience as we tried to capture good images in their natural habitat.  This elusive quacker is the Wood Duck.  I suppose I shouldn't refer to the Wood Duck as a quacker because it really doesn't quack.  The male makes a rising whistle, "jeeeee" while the female makes a drawn out "oo-eek" or "cr-e-ek" when alarmed.  Trust me when I say that they become alarmed easily.

Our journey to capture decent images of Wood Ducks was quite challenging to say the least.  Wood Ducks are said to be one of the most colorful ducks in the world if not the most colorful.  When they are found they are more often than not found in swamps, marshes and backwoods ponds.  Because of this fact we spent hours upon hours in swamps and marshes.  Sounds like a good time doesn't it?  When we did locate some Woody's we would then spend huge amounts of time sitting in a pop up blind hoping to blend in with the surroundings and get some close shots.  Let's just say we began to feel like swamp people.  We were on a first name basis with ticks and skeeters and hopefully strengthened our immune systems during these times in the swamps.

So what did we learn as we sat quietly in our blind?  We learned that Wood Ducks are very smart and quite camera shy.  We learned that tick and skeeters are very personable.  We learned that people are very leary of swamp people.  We also learned that bank beavers tunnel into the bank creating booby traps for an unsuspecting photographer. We also learned that the strange sound of something brushing the side of your blind could be a black bear.  Last but not least we learned that a muskrat can scare the crap out of you when he wanders into your blind.

So enough about that, lets talk more about Wood Ducks.  Wood Ducks pair up early in January and are the only duck that will produce two broods in a single season.  They are one of the few ducks that have claws used for gripping and climbing.  They often nest in hollows of trees but also duck boxes.  When the eggs are hatched and the chicks are ready to leave the nest they pretty much "plop" to the ground.  Believe it or not these chicks can survive a "plop" of nearly 300 feet without getting injured.  When full grown they can fly up to 30 mph.  Wood Ducks are dabbling ducks but will dip their heads into the water for a little aquatic snack.

So I hope you learned some things about Wood Ducks.  As I said early on, these are one of the most colorful ducks in the world.  I hope after seeing these pictures you will agree!  Even the females have some neat markings and color but the males are absolutely breathtaking.

Sometimes rain drops can look cool!

Front View of Mr Woody!
They are always watching!

Male and female Woody

Trying to impress the ladies

He's got something to say!

Hopefully these pictures explained our attration to these colorful ducks.


Coy Hill said...

Your dedication and perseverance paid off handsomely Tom! Wild woodies are the absolute dickens to photograph. Now if you keep at it the young will start showing up probably within the next two weeks and you can document their development. Don’t let your caution wane because they are just as wild as the adults but it does help that they cannot fly.

Willard said...

I'll second what Coy says, Tom. Is this the 5D MKIII in action. I am about convinced to get one--don't need to spend the money, but I am a hopeless addict and must have this camera. I read that the light leak issue was resolved, but it doesn't sound to me like it was really a problem for most use in the first place.