Patience pays off

Mama Mallard and her orderly 8 children.
Mama Mallard and her orderly 8 children.

At  times, it is the photo that drives the post.  It is not necessarily that I have anything important to say beyond the visual.  This is true in my last two posts.  I thought the photos were decent and I decided to publish them amid some text.

Mama and Child
Mama and Child

This photo of the eight Mallard ducklings trailing Mama across a pond at Encanto Park the other day is case in point.

After a late breakfast at the golf course cafe, I walked back through the park, camera in hand with the usual attachment, a 24-70mm lens.  My expectations weren’t high until I caught sight of movement in some debris that had collected by the shore.  Moving closer I counted a Mallard hen and her eight unruly babies.  Mama was busy searching for food.  The babies searching for fun, which can be the same thing as mischief.

Mama and brood approach the bridge.
Mama and brood approach the bridge.

My idea was to photograph all nine of them together.  It wasn’t easy.  There were always two or three babies that would leave Mama’s clutch for a few moments.  As I walked along with them as they passed under a bridge and into a more open area of water, I was losing patience.  It was Primary voting day in Arizona and I wanted to make connections with Nebra before I did.

Suddenly my luck changed.  As Papa Mallard approached, all the babies got into a line behind Mom to cross a wide section of the pond, and there I had it, the photo I’d been looking for, but in not the best of light and almost too far for my short lens to reach them.  But I shot anyway, and this is what I came up with.

Pappa approaches.
Pappa approaches.

Somehow it made me feel good to see such a brood together, although I’ve read the average is nine eggs for Mallards.  If nine, where was the other baby?  Didn’t want to think about that.

 

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A blue-headed mallard told to shove off

Three's a crowd. Green head and blue head drakes seek attention of a hen (middle).

I like my mallard drakes to have green heads.  It makes my world simpler.  But yesterday at Town & Country mall, I for the first time saw a blue head.  It was competing with a green head for the affections of what looked to be a befuddled hen.

The green head, I think, had been the original beau.  I saw a green-head drake and hen anyway a few weeks ago paddling about one of the fountains.  I assumed they were the same ones.  Only the blue head was new.

The green head waddled about trying to block the blue head in its path to the hen.  The scene drew the attention of a handful of chuckling human observors, knowing full well I suppose that this trait is quite common in their own species.

Later, after dining, I ventured back to the same area.  I found the two drakes, possibly exhausted, laying in the sun side by side.  Buddies now perhaps until they regained energy.  The hen lay behind them about six feet trying to relax before the next round.