As a wildlife photographer I guess I’m meant to shoot what’s in front of me and not get involved but sometimes your emotions get in the way. At first I thought this was just a fight between some male mallards so I began shooting some pictures. However it soon became clear that they weren’t fighting each other and beneath this scrum of eight males was one female who was being thrust under the water as five of them grabbed her neck.
Some loud shouting, clapping and waving of my arms distracted them long enough for her to get away and as she waddled off to float away on the stream I’m sure she gave me a look of relief and gratitude
A previously mentioned a local mallard has had 10 ducklings and so a perfect opportunity to get some aaah photo’s. However when I went back the next day I was a bit surprised to see she had 14 little followers. It was only after a little head scratching that I realised there were now 2 mums with a total of 23 beautiful babies.
I think such large broods are a combination of the mild winter allowing the female to keep well fed and healthy and knowing that not all will survive the many predators on the river so more young means a greater chance that some will survive.
22 out of the 23 are almost identical but one sticks out as he/she is quite different. Almost totally black with just a yellow breast and a fleck on the wing I’ve got my fingers crossed this is one of those that makes it.
Mallards are everywhere, on every lake, pond, canal and river so I guess the fact they’re so common is why they’re generally overlooked. When you view Facebook birding pages or wildlife portfolio’s it’s very rare they’ll feature a mallard.
But these people don’t know what they’re missing. These are stunning birds if you get them in the right light and the fact they’ll come up really close also makes them an easy subject to photograph. Forget about the goldeneye on the otherside of the lake or the tufted duck just out of range and concentrate on what’s right under your nose. You may be surprised.
I recently went South for a few days and its interesting to see the difference a couple of hundred miles make to the seasons. Nearly every bird I saw was carrying a twig or nesting material or was singing loudly to attract a mate, back up North and we’re still a couple of weeks away from this.
I visited the London Wetland center which served up a pair of courting kingfishers checking out a potential nesting site and this male shoveller duck who was making sure he looked his best. For about 20 minutes he barrel rolled in the water and then groomed every single feather. Lets hope some lucky female found all his efforts worthwhile!
Every time I see a male Mandarin duck I imagine it being dreamt up by a committee of bewhiskered Victorian gentlemen, all of whom had to have an input.
In fact they were imported from Asia during the 18th century for the landed gentry to show off. They began to breed in the wild when some escaped in Chobham in Surrey. They have gradually spread around the country and there is a healthy population near me at Adel Dam near Leeds.
They males are stunning to look at with an array of features and colours in comparison to the rather dowdy grey female. However in summer the males lose their gaudy appearance and appear very similar to the females.