The Epic of the Duck Hunt

September 15, 2006

When Donkey was staying in the field with the lambs, i used to go over and bottle feed him each day. – The farmland he was now living on bordered the golf course in leek wooton. Public footpaths criss crossed this course and they also had some natural lakes next to man made ones.. Ducks, coots, herons and Great Crested Grebes frequented these lakes.

 

I would go over to feed Donkey, then walk across the course and sit by the lakes. One of the ducks was patrolling the course with her entourage of eight ducklings.. One morning I sat beside the smallest lake, trying to get a good shot of the coots..

 

Across the lake from me, I observed the Duck slipping into the lake with her Ducklings following.. so I focused on these instead of the coots which hadn’t seen me and ended up swimming directly in front of my camera!

 

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They were under pressure from the Coots in this lake, and so they swam back past me again and left.. i made the decision to follow them, trying not to be seen.

 

as i moved back through the bushes i was sat in and crept around the reeds on the border of the lake, i knew i was coming up to a path with another lake the other side of it. I predicted the Duck would take her family across and into the other lake and set my Camera up in anticipation..

 

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After having walked down the path towards me and slipping into the next lake, i followed them along, seeing they were not settling and making way for the other edge of the lake, i got out of eye shot and ran on ahead..

 

I nearly ruined my chances then, having ran ahead of them and setting my camera up… in credit to how quiet i was setting up, the ducklings and duck didn’t hear, and they pushed through the reeds one meter from my postion.

 

This wasn’t good for either of us, i wasnt fully set up and was too close to focus with the lens i was using anyway.. The Duck then saw me and ushered her babies back into the lake.. before getting back in, this little fella walked further away to find a break in the reeds.. – into focus for me!

 

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Staying put and not moving any more, i hoped they would not be disuaded from their exit of the lake from this side.. which paid off for they got out further up the field from my position..

 

They were heading directly for the Largest lake of the course, over a stretch of green cut close for the golfers and offering no cover for the Ducklings.. I waited for them to get about 5 minutes into walking across then disregarded subtlety and picked up my equipment and strode over to the Lake parrellel to their migration.. Thinking she would not risk crossing this vulnerable stretch of land with her little ones without determination to get there.. led me to believe she would not turn back after having got so far into the green and then seeing me.

 

I was right, she saw me as soon as i moved, but being behind her, she had no choice but to keep on moving… she couldn’t go faster or fly away without leaving her babies behind, so i moved on ahead and set up next to the rough bordering the next
Lake
. Catching this photo as she led them into the rough:

 

 

 

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Once in the rough, she stopped them all and rose above the grasses to look for me, but i had frozen minutes before and she assumed i wasn’t such a threat..

 

I now had the opportunity to scout this Lake, it was a strange choice for her, it was huge, with it being july (and ours was so hot this year) the water was low on the banks, meaning any potential protection from reeds was left higher up the banks and dry.

 

The water was one huge, open expanse and after discovering her discomfort with her babies in vulnerable open spaces, I guessed she was not planning on going for a leisurely swim.

 

She was heading further up the Lake than where i was, obviously disconcerted by my presence.. but the only local protection was from a bunching of reeds in front of me.. I couldn’t see her wanting to go anywhere else, so i shot into postition, getting as close to the edge of the Lake i could without getting wet.

 

I scared some moorhens out from the reeds as i settled down and set my tripod up but then keeping still, they returned after a minute.. finding then the Duck and her posse were swimming through the extremities of the reeds.. Pleased with accurately thinking like my prey i began shooting their progression up until they were two meters from me, standing on the stones at the edge of the lake and bathing for 20 minutes or more…

 

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It was a great morning for me, seeing them leave their bathing and go over to the side of the Lake to have a nap i decided i had enough as well, there was no more action with the Ducklings and all the anticipation of earlier had quite worn me out.. besides.. the heat of the day was picking up…

 

What also acted as a compliment to me that morning, that was when i had finished shooting and stood up.. four moornhens burst from the reeds in surprize and the Duck also perked up paying renewed interest in me.. I had been sitting so still, none of them even knew i was there! 🙂

 

This was a shot when they settled down to rest..

 

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One Response to “The Epic of the Duck Hunt”

  1. Mom Says:

    I wish Andy could have seen these photos he would have loved them and been so proud he’d introduced you to the bird life around the golf course.


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