In a recent post (See: A Birthday Present) I mentioned that I wanted “have a go” at bird photography. I also noted that to this end my wife bought me a 400mm lens for my birthday. This same post showed my first test shots in our garden – regrettably no birds.

So I went out the other day to try to find some birds. Our lake has five small beaches. I visited all of them – no birds. I did find some turtles though.

I was returning home when I remembered there was one place I hadn’t tried. Ironically it’s the closest to our house – less than a five minute walk. A small stream meanders under a small wooden bridge and down to the lake. Maybe I’d find something there. And, indeed, as I walked down I heard a “quack, quack” sound. Promising. Then I spotted a goose. Finally a bird! I took a couple of pictures and then moved on. A few steps on I realized that the goose wasn’t moving. I took a closer look and it wasn’t moving because it wasn’t a real goose. It was some kind of decoy. Curses – foiled again!

Choking back my disappointment I started to trudge back home. Then it occurred to me – if the goose wasn’t real then what was making the “quack quack” sound? In any case even if the goose had been real it would have been going “honk honk” rather than “quack quack”. Back I went and sure enough hidden under the leaves of an overhanging tree was a flotilla of five ducks.

I expected them to be mallards because that’s what you usually find around us. There was a female mallard, but a couple of the others I’d never seen before. When I got home I did some “googling” and consulted with some more knowledgeable friends. We concluded that it wasn’t a wild duck at all. Rather it was a mix of domestic breeds. I thought that the body coloration looked like that of a Buff Orpington and the head like that of a crested duck. The presence of the female mallard may indicate there’s some of that breed in the mix. Apparently mallards will mate with any duck that moves.

Above a large snapping turtle on an island in the middle of the lake. If seen one (maybe the same one) in the same location before. Possibly this is it’s domain. It’s big and they have a very powerful bite (that can take off a finger) so I’m not going to contest it.

Four smaller turtles on a rock in one of the coves.

The dreaded decoy goose. Fairly realistic at a quick glance.

The unidentified duck.

Another picture of the unidentified duck with a female mallard on the right, and another unidentified duck behind.

I’m ready for my close up Mr. de Mille.

The other unidentified duck with the female mallard.

Taken with a Sony A77II and Sigma 400mm f5.6

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