Reflections on Fall Wood Ducks

A drake wood duck at our pond this morning.

Every year around the fall turkey season I start watching for wood ducks at my tiny pond as they drop in to gorge on duckweed. This morning I had two pairs just before sunrise. My record is 24!

As a bonus, the water on our pond is gorgeous this time of year, at least for about 30 minutes each morning as the sun reaches the perfect angle to enhance the reflection of the surrounding broomsedge and other grasses. The resulting canvas of gold and yellow makes the perfect background for Missouri’s most beautiful waterfowl.

The key to getting great images of wood ducks and other waterfowl in the golden light of morning is patience. The natural tendency of a rookie photographer is to start shooting right when the ducks arrive at sunrise or before. I’ve found over the years that if I sit as still as possible in my turkey chair (draped in cut-leaf camo as always), refrain from shooting, and wait for the golden light to come, there is a much greater chance that the woodies will stick around. Sometimes I have to wait almost an hour if they arrive really early. Ducks are extremely wary and even one click of a shutter will flush them off the water. It’s best to make that click count.

A wood duck enters my frame at the perfect moment, resulting in a studio-like image.
It is almost always a hen that eventually blows my cover and ends the morning shoot.

At some point ducks will become wary of an unnatural movement or even the reflection off of something as small as a wedding ring. They also get skittish as the giant lens eye follows them around. The key is to wait for the best light and then capture some images before it is too late.

My last shot of the morning before one of the hens busted me.

I never tire of photographing waterfowl, especially wood ducks, but also sea ducks such as goldeneye and bufflehead, and bay ducks such as canvasbacks and redheads. But if you follow my blog, you know that I’m also partial to whitetails, coyotes, any other critter that moves. Did I mention songbirds? Variety is the spice of life, especially for wildlife photographers.

Happy Naturing,


Email: NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com


America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.

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