I struggle with ducks. I really do. My gear’s longest lens is 300mm. The bodies that I use have cropped sensors, except for my sweet D600 which is a full sensor camera. The cropped sensors give me a little more reach. Ducks do not like people paying attention to them. If they panic, they fly but most often they just swim away and look over their shoulder with distrust in their eyes.
I can pull off the shots if a combination of circumstances come together. Such was this photo shoot with a male Red-breasted Merganser. I found a spot with good light where it seemed to be quiet and hoped that I didn’t get any disturbances such as a runner or a runner with dogs or just a stroller coming through enjoying the same outdoors as me. But I take it all in stride. We’re all on this planet together.
When it all comes together, I go into “the zone”. It’s just me and my subject. I spent about an hour with this bird off and on as he came and went from my location.
Just so you know, a jogger did come through. My buddy here took it all in stride and decided the jogger was dangerous and I was okay. So he stuck by me. I’ve had this happen before with birds when I’m in “the zone”. Often the big bad birds will find me intimidating and the smaller timid birds will figure out that the big birds are scared and they can feed by me in peace.
Two examples are my Sanderling Photo Shoot and back in 2008 when I wrote a commentary on political reporting. In that case a particularly nasty little Semipalmated Sandpiper was bullying other birds. A Least Sandpiper figured out that I was okay and the Semipalm kept his distance from me. So the Least and I became best buddies for a nice little shoot. Check out that image. It’s one of my favorites.