New Year Ducks

For the last 14 months or so I’ve been saving my spare pennies in order to upgrade my photographic hardware and the plan was to put the money towards the Canon 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens which I mentioned in my last post.

(I’ve bought several items in the last 7 or 8 months or so from an online second hand camera shop and I’m going to give these guys a free plug because they have been very good indeed. They are called ‘MPB Photographic‘ and are based in Brighton, UK. I got a cheap Canon 18-55mm lens, a Manfrotto tripod, several filters and the battery grip for my Canon DSLR. All were good prices and the quality has been excellent and exactly as described on the website, so I’ve saved between £5-600 so far! Apparently, the pictures of items on the website are always of the item you are actually buying, not a new one, and the images are zoomable so you can get a good look at it too. So after buying my lens there and it being in mint condition I’ve decided that I’ll buy second hand if they have what I’m after).

The good lady wife gave me the lens for Christmas and I was very excited about getting out and about with it between Christmas and New Year, and then on Christmas Day I came down with the lurg and was incapacitated for a week. But on New Years Day I was feeling a little more human, and the sun came out, so I was determined to get to a lake and try to take photographs of distant water birds.

Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) – the male of the species, with his reflection and his piercing yellow eye

I drove the short distance to Milton Country Park on the north side of Cambridge, which was full to overflowing with folk walking off their New Years Eve hangovers. I’ve been on a mission to get a good photograph of a tufted duck because they’re handsome birds and I’ve taken many sub standard pictures which simply don’t cut the mustard, so I was pleased to get these pictures in lighting conditions that were challenging. It was a very cold but sunny day and by the time I got there in the mid afternoon the sun was already behind the trees, so the light was starting to fail and I needed high ISO to get a picture. But despite that the quality of the images is pretty good I reckon!

The male tufties were grouped together, there were around half a dozen of them, and a way distant was a female, paddling around on her own and she seemed to be avoiding the males.

The female tufted duck and a black headed gull in winter plumage

The lady of the species is dark brown on top with mottled brown flanks and is rather less noticeable than the male. Bit I really like this picture of her because of the colour of the water. She was 60-70m beyond the group of males in the pictures above and I really liked the difference in the colour of the water due to the sun shining on the trees behind her and reflecting on the water, but where the males were the water was the colour of the reflected sky.

So I’m very satisfied with the performance of my new zoom lens and I’ll be posting lots more pictures to show you in the very near future.

(P.S. I’ve been really struggling to keep up with all your blogs and it’s been a source of major irritation, but I’m now going to try to catch up with you all over the next week or so. See you soon. F)

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38 responses to “New Year Ducks

  1. Wonderfully clear. Love the brightness of the ducks’ eyes.

    I expect to go the second-hand route if I decide to invest in a DSLR and accompanying lenses. Thanks for the link.

  2. Err…sorry Finn…all I can see is “Photo of the moment” to caption your fungus…maybe I am missing something in that title but we antipodean fungi lovers are not as easily excited as others you know 😉

    • Hover over it with your cursor – let me know if the caption doesn’t appear.

      • I saw it! Cheers Finn 🙂 You just made my fungi free day! It’s too hot over here at the moment for fungi (aside from ruminating in my compost heaps where I dig them up on occasion and marvel at their tenacity to survive such heat) and to be gifted a lovely squidgy looking fungus like that makes me want to dismantle my compost heap post haste and go hunting 🙂 I do have those Jafneadelphus ferrugineus growing in my mushroom compost on top of my veggie gardens and as they don’t appear to be doing anything negative to my veggies I leave them there. Who knows… the secret to my bountiful harvest might just be them! If it aint broke…don’t fix it folks! ;). Cheers again for my fungi. I am off to pinch your photo and use it as my desktop wallpaper now 🙂

      • You’re welcome. I don’t know about that particular species, but fungi are absolutely vital for maintaining healthy ecosystems so they may well be contributing to your continued harvest!

  3. Beautiful pics. Nice to hear that you saved money to get a new lens. It means we can enjoy many more stunning photography from you 😀

  4. The first two photos are stunning! I love the colours!

  5. Good for you buying second hand…we need to take the stigma away from second hand buying…on second thoughts…leave it there! The more for savvy buyers like us eh? ;). I am starting to worry a bit about that “lurg”. It would seem that most of the Northern Hemisphere has copped it with this flu this year and it appears to be particularly viralent…I might have to lay low like Brer Rabbit this year to ensure that I don’t catch it! The quality of the photography is VERY good…kudos to your wife for giving you those lenses. Tell me about keeping up with blogs! I read mine through Google’s rss feed reader and I came back from my daughters after a weekend away and had 1000+ posts in my feed reader! I have had to thin it out somewhat but am loath to part with most of the blogs I have in there because they are all excellent. Have fun wading through the blogs 🙂 By the way…there is another Serendipity Farm spoon giveaway to be drawn this saturday…do you want to enter and win your wonderful wife who DID give you that lovely zoom lens, a Valentine’s Day spoon? You even get to choose from 2 spoons :). Let me know ASAP if you want to go into the walnut draw 🙂

    • Blimey Fran, it would cause me stress having so many posts in the Reader. But as you said you have to get ruthless every now and then and have a clear out. But I shall be posting lots of pictures taken with my new lens in the very near future. And I would definitely like to enter the draw for a Serendipity Farm spoon. I spent this weekend making a tool for my wife to use in her silver smithing course. It fits in a vice and is used for holding pieces for sawing and it was a great way to spend a weekend. It was the kind of thing I could have lashed up in half an hour, but I wouldn’t have been happy with that so I put in some TLC and made something which looks nice too. The good lady has said some very nice things about it so my time wasn’t wasted. I shall eagerly await Saturday now with my fingers crossed 🙂

      • :). Is there any way that we could see some of your wifes silver efforts (sterling efforts BOOM BOOM as Basil brush would have said 😉 ) on the blog? You are in the draw and now you just have to hope that the dog draws your walnut 🙂 There is nothing like doing something properly to get you kudos. My old nan used to say “if a job is worth doing, its worth doing well” and I have stuck with that premise all my life. I certainly haven’t had any complaints by trying to do my best :). I bet your wife appreciated your extra efforts to make her something aesthetically pleasing as well as function. We learned all about the balance between “function” and “form” in our Landscape Design course…we learned it…but didn’t have much opportunity to practice it so I guess we have to take pot luck at being good landscape designers 😉

      • As soon as the production line is rolling I’ll publish a picture. She’s only just started and is in the process of procuring the necessary tools, hence my efforts. And I absolutely agree with you about doing things properly – when a little more effort produces something desirable as well as functional it’s got to be worth it.

        Tell Earl I’ll buy him a big fat juicy bone if he pulls my walnut out the hat 🙂

        (BTW Did you see you the caption on the fungus picture on the front page of The Naturephile?)

      • No…I missed it! I had best head over and check now… plus Earl says a big fat juicy bone is nice and all but Thinkingcowgirl has been dangling a free range steak in front of his walnut questing beak and it is mighty tempting… 😉

      • The competition’s hotting up! It’ll have to be a very big bone to match TCG’s bribe 🙂

      • “Dinosaur” says Earl (who at 2, is very quickly learning the value of supply and demand when the supply is on your side and the demand is on everyone elses 😉 )

  6. Crisp images, very nice.

  7. Glad to hear you’re feeling better, it’s horrible getting ill over the festive season, but alas all too common. Lovely ducks, and I’m looking forward to more!

  8. Those photos came out nice and clean. I would also like that lens!

    The tufted duck reminds me somewhat of one of my favorite ducks here, the goldeneye. They summer in the far north of Canada but often winter here where they feed on the river between floating ice cakes.

  9. If this species is anything like the mallard ducks who multiply here each season, she was avoiding unwanted attentions from males who have no mercy – a polite way of saying gang-rape!!!!!

    • I’ve never observed tufted duck mating behaviour but I know what you mean about mallards, it’s brutal business and I’ve heard that the poor female can end up getting drowned due to the attentions of multiple suitors.

  10. Beautiful, Finn, and congratulations on the new baby!

  11. Good looking ducks — and photos too. Lots of flu laying us low over here in the US as well. Have fun with the new equipment!

  12. Lovely….! And, GASP! Now that’s a Christmas present! EXCELLENT! I’ve had my eye on some second-hand 100-400 lenses for some time… 🙂 Congrats!

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