The ducks have begun to congregate on Fresh Pond. They appear to have favorite places, and the different species occupy the same spots as last year. I was delighted on Thursday to see that the hooded mergansers had returned to Black’s Nook. I had taken a day off from my camera, just to enjoy and take in the color and the smell of fresh air after a heavy autumn rain storm. When I returned on Friday this group was already gone. But I suspect that others will appear.
The pond itself is filled largely with ring-necks (Aythya collaris). All of the ducks treat humans warily. They don’t flee in a panic but paddle off to a safer distance. Hidden behind foliage and a chain-link fence, I was able to photograph a group when one of the males rose out of the water and put on a “wing flapping” display. Fortunately I had already set the focus and so was able to capture the scene in the few seconds that it lasted. This is why I prefer the more moderate zoom – it is quicker than the long zoom and doesn’t require a monopod.
Wing flapping is an expression of dominance and, in the breeding season, a courting ritual. Multiple drakes often gather around a single hen and display in this way. She in turn picks out the drake she likes with a nod of the head back and forth or paddling with her head held low.
Canon T2i with EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens at 149 mm, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority AE mode, 1/2000th sec at f/7.1 with +1 exposure compensation.