Very early in the morning (before sunrise) last weekend, I went to Cambridge, Maryland, to photograph ducks with another serious and talented photographer, Ceasar Sharper. Ceasar and I had been to Cambridge before, but this was the first time to photograph ducks. We did not know what to expect or whether we would find any ducks at all.
We arrived in Cambridge shortly after sunrise, and at the first place we stopped along the Choptank River, all we found were Canada Geese. However, we also found a group of serious birders, who told us about a nearby location that typically has wintering, migratory ducks. When we arrived at that location, there were two other photographers and a couple of hundred ducks. We got EXCITED! This was going to be better than we had imagined.
The other photographers were from Pennsylvania, and this was their second day at this location. They came prepared with a large tub of cracked corn, and periodically threw a handful into the river, which attracted the ducks closer toward us and set them off into a feeding frenzy. Below are several images of the ducks in a feeding frenzy going after the cracked corn.
Ceasar, like me, is predominately a still photographer, but he did make a short video with his Nikon D300s. The video shows the above feeding frenzy in action along with sound. Click on the below video image to start the video. Be sure to have your speakers turned on.
We saw and were able to photograph 6 species of ducks: American Wigeons, Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaups, Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, and one Redhead Duck. In this article, I am only going to include images of the American Wigeons and Mallards. My next blog article will include images of the other ducks.
Images of the American Wigeon are below. Click on the images to see them in more detail. American Wigeons are common small ducks that summer in inland marshes, and winter in a variety of freshwater and saltwater wetlands and open water. Wigeons are plant eaters and will often pick their food from the surface of shallow wetlands. They are one of the most northernly ducks, breeding as far north as the Canadian tundra.
Below is a female American Wigeon.
One more image of a male American Wigeon.
The below image is of a male Mallard followed by a female Mallard. Mallards are one of the most familiar ducks and are found throughout North America. They are found in all kinds of wetlands, as well as urban areas. For many years, a female Mallard nested and hatched ducklings in the center courtyard of the Pentagon–having worked in the Pentagon for many years, this is firsthand knowledge. Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.
It was a very rewarding day to have seen and been able to photograph such a large variety of ducks in a single location. In addition, it was another gorgeous day in the mid-Atlantic region with temperature in the 50s. As we were leaving, we met a local resident that said this time of year, the Choptank River is usually frozen. The ducks and I are loving the mild winter!
In my next blog article, I will include images of the other 4 species of ducks that we photographed (Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, and the one Redhead).