Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wood Duck Family

It is a dangerous world out there for wood duck chicks, even more so before they are able to fly. Their only means of protection is to swim as fast as they can.  I remember seeing a female and her chicks serenely crossing the river last spring and, when they reached the middle of the river, a boat came roaring down the river bearing down on them.  The mother was in a panic, getting the kids to swim as fast as they possibly could to get them out of harms way.  And rightfully so.  You wouldn't believe how unconscious people can be about their surrounding environment, even while driving a boat.  Twice I have seen an eagle swoop right down in front of: 1. a boat with three guys and 2. two people in separate canoes.  None of these individuals appeared to see either eagle!  The mother got them to safety, however, and they went up into the safer environs of a marshy creek.

And that is where this mother and her chicks were headed - into the marsh in Graham Creek.  She lead them straight across the river past a sleepy heron standing out in the water on a rock, up the shoreline under the canopy of a tree where I had seen an eagle land only minutes before.  I kept my lens trained on the little family.  Who knows, I might get some great shots of an eagle picking off a duckling. What? And you wouldn't in my place?  But, thankfully, it didn't happen.  The last danger was me and she was quite aware of my presence.

When I first saw them coming, I retracted the legs on my tripod so it would be sitting just off the ground because I didn't want the pictures to look like I was shooting straight down on them.  So, when they went past, I was kneeling down behind the camera and presented an unrecognizable form to the duck.  She was uneasy, but not enough to cancel the outing.  She vary warily led them on past until they disappeared under the bridge.  The marsh has better cover and is probably a safer place to let them learn and grow.

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