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Wood Duck Photography
TrueToad / Tuesday, June 6, 2017 / Categories: The Photography Blog

Wood Duck Photography

Great Find

It was like any other rainy day, kind of blah, but I had a day off work with previous hopes of going out for a few hours for some wildlife shooting, the rain as I saw it was coming down light and not all that persistent or steady.  So, a decision was made at 06:00 to make the move and pack up for a half day out.  My gear of choice that morning was my trusty D810 with a 600mm equipped with a 14 TC III, and for some reason I needed to carry a 8mm fish-eye. The choice for the D810 over my D500 was due to my desire to get a few full frame circular fisheye shots.

I have a "think tank" rain cover for my 600 and camera but failed to bring it along, instead as backup I maintain two large plastic bags - they come in handy on a number of occasions.  Lucky for me I did not require them as the rain was never more than a light sprinkle.

Things I screw up along the way: I normally goof up on a few things that ultimately blows a "perfect" opportunity or two on each of my outings, Like forgetting to follow my own advice such as being in stealth mode. I have for three years been trying to get a "great" shot of a Pileated Woodpecker, I have a couple photos in my woodpecker catalog but they are just so so.  It happens this way, I am making my way up this slight incline to an area overlooking a marsh and without considering what just might be ahead I come upon not one but two Pileated Woodpeckers perched on a log taking turns pounding into the wood digging for larva. This area was easily visible to me as I walked up the incline for at least 400 feet, but I was looking down at the trail and not taking time to stop and look around, and when I did stop and looked up - there they were pounding away, and it took about 30 seconds before the first one spotted me, paused, then took flight. The second took a few more strikes then realized his friend was gone, and followed suit. Yes, I kicked my self for that one.

On to the Ducks, Not having great expectations due to the rain, I made my way to the end and was doing a visual survey for wildlife - nothing.  One Eagle flew by up and over, so I sat, and sat. There were a large flock of Canadian Geese off to the left mostly standing on a beach with some in the water, they were content and not honking to alarm I was in the area, so I kept my distance to ensure they stayed quite.

First Spotting: I first spotted a duck of some sort fly up and out of the marsh area from behind some foliage, I was not sure the species but knew it was a duck. Afte another 25 minutes, 6 Wood Ducks made a pass and landed off in the distance, all outside my lens due to the angle where they were, as always birds seem to find a tree or branch that obscures them. I moved very quietly to my right and down next to a large oak tree giving me a better angle.  Eventually, I had an opportunity but the distance was quite far even for a 600 with a 14tc. But knowing from my previous mistakes, I took three photos then used the live view to ensure i had achieved critical focus from the distance I was at, even the best of systems my be fooled with such long shots. 

Until this day I never witnessed a Wood Duck perched, much to my surprise the group took flight and move to an adjacent tree all but one perching in it. I took a few more photos, and much to my surprise based on the distance the images came out acceptable.  I stuck around for another 30 minutes but the group just sat in the tree, I restraind myself from attempting to move down closer in fear of spooking the birds as they seemed to be just taking it easy while it rained, I packed it up and when home as my day was made with this encountered.

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  • Nikkor 600mm f/4 FL ED VR
Camera Body
  • Nikon D810
Accessories Used
  • TC-14E III


I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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