Eyes Wide

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A nice telephoto lens can be a great learning tool and this shot is a good example. You think you are being sneaky, hidden behind the shrubs on the rivers edge, watching this pair of Northern Shovelers feeding. Then you peer through your lens and lo and behold they are looking right back at you. Still feeding, relaxed, yet aware of your presence. Ecological awareness on display.

Red Breasted Merganser

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An infrequent sighting on our local pond was this Red Breasted Merganser. When we arrived he was off in the distance head tucked and floating as he snoozed on a chilly morning. After watching him, as well as the hoodies and shovelers on the pond for an hour or so, he woke up swam around a bit, dove for some crawfish and flew away. Luckily he swam our way and we were able get a good look at a good looking bird and snap a few photos.

Hybrid Mallards?

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There are four photos in the full post.

A few weeks ago we noticed these three ducks all hanging out together that looked a bit like mallards but they were darker in spots and the coloration was just not typical of a mallard. In addition,one guy had some strange poofy feathers on his head. They were also much larger, almost goose size, compared to the typical mallard.

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At first I thought they might be melanistic mallards, expressing excess feather pigmentation. However after reading more on melanistic animals I think they are probably some type of mallard hybrids. When we first saw these guys they seemed out of their element in the local pond. All three hung out very close together the whole time we observed them even dabbling in unison for food. Perhaps another case of pet ducks released into the wild just like our encounters with the Pekin and Mandarin ducks in the past.

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If anyone can shed some light as to the exact origins of these hybrids it is welcome. Until then they remain a bit of a mystery to me.

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