Luck comes in droves. Sometimes bad, sometimes good. The only way to beat luck is to play the numbers game. If you’re doing everything right, keep trying and hoping and eventually you’ll get results. Today the luck started raining on me for ducks. It was a situation I almost passed up. There were two Blue-winged Teals feeding at the water’s edge. But there was absolutely no cover and the land had a very steep slope down to the water. Usually in these circumstances you have about zero chance of being able to approach a subject. But something told me to get out and give it a go. I rarely flush my subjects. But you can tell with experience if a bird is nervous by looking for behavior details. I was astounded when I got out of the car and the ducks practically ignored me.
From the last shot, you can tell that I was able to approach the ducks. It was surprisingly easy. Sure there was 45 minutes of crawling on my stomach pushing the tripod in front of me a few inches at a time, but this is the kind of situation that is normally impossible. After I got to a certain point, I just settled down and started photographing. After all, there was absolutely no cover and the ducks knew I was there. But after a few minutes, they swam right up to me, passing within 5 feet of where I was. Totally amazing… I think I owe some of it to the coots. Anytime some birds are at ease with your presence, it relaxes the other birds.
This area had a lot of stuff in the water making for backgrounds that weren’t the cleanest, but I wasn’t going to quibble over it and made do the best I could. This was the closest I’ve been to Blue-winged Teals and the amount of detail in their feathers is astonishing. Unfortunately, the small images on the web don’t do it justice.
Blue-winged Teals stick together very tightly as pairs. Most of my time was spent waiting for a duck to separate a little from the pair or for both birds in the pair to create an attractive composition. As the evening progressed, the ducks stopped feeding and found a place to rest among the vegetation.
In the end, the ducks just feel asleep a few feet from me. I kept photographing until the light faded away. Eventually I was forced to say goodbye and slowly crawl away, leaving the ducks resting undisturbed. There are always skittish birds and brave birds within every species. For some species, you feel very fortunate when you encounter a friendly bird.