Relaxing After The Journey
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Ducks have finally started to arrive at Sweetwater Wetlands. Their migration is delayed by at least six weeks from a year ago. I can’t account for that except for the fact that we’ve had an unusually warm autumn here (it topped out at 85 this afternoon) and the birds may have felt no urgency to make the voyage. They’ve started to trickle in, in groups of five and six, and we are still probably at least 1000 birds short of a typical fall migration. But, at least some are showing up and I assume that soon, there will be many more.
The other day I photographed this female Mallard having fun on one of the wetlands’ ponds. I can’t say for sure that she’s a migrant; there are always a few Mallards who summer at the wetlands. However, even the Mallard population gets augmented considerably in a normal autumn, so, perhaps she’s newly arrived.
All ducks seem to do what this one is doing. It’s part of their self-grooming ritual. They will preen and clean their feathers by dipping water out of the pond and spreading it over themselves. Then, they will rise on their legs and vigorously flap their wings five or six times. I believe they may be shaking off excess water droplets when they do this. I’ve also seen ducks do this in an apparent effort to intimidate rivals. Two ducks squabbling (something that happens relatively often) will engage in a ritual of wing flapping, as if to say “I’m bigger than you are!”
I’m very pleased with this photo. As with the case of the grebe photos that I posted the other day, the late afternoon sunlight really did cool things with the surface of the water.
Photo taken with Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 800, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/800.