Water wings I
Today was yet another superb day on the Welsh coast, with bright azure skies creating beautiful reflections down on the harbour water at home in Aberystwyth. Whilst I had been hoping to capture more images of the mallard courtship displays it seems the ducks were not in a flirtatious mood and most of the females were feeding further up river as the drakes rested in the sheltered bay.
Keen not to waste a beautiful day I remained by the water’s edge, capturing some of the beautiful drakes and their reflections in the surface.
Eventually my patience paid off and the mallards sprung into action, not with a courtship display but a vigorous bathing session.
The mallards began by dipping their heads into the water and sending water cascading over their backs. They would then shake their head and necks sending water droplets in all directions.
Water off a duck’s back
By throwing water all over their bodies, and beating their wings in the water, the mallards rid themselves of dirt of parasites within the feathers, essential for keeping the birds in good health and looking their best.
I used a high shutter speed of 1/2500sec to freeze the motion of the ducks, and the movement of the water and I am rather pleased with the results.
After an enthusiastic few minutes of bathing, the birds then settled down to preen. Preening rearranges the feathers and anoints them with waterproofing oil, secreted from the mallards’ preen glands located underneath the tail.
Preening in a golden pool of light
Preening – close up
Soaking up the sun
— All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 © www.greyfeatherphotography.com
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