First Babies

I got an email at work, “We have babies!!!!”

I thought he meant the Canada Geese, but it was the Mallards. Which makes sense, because I’m relatively certain that my first pictures of the Goslings was early/mid May last year.

Anyway, he was out when I got home from work, but he’d left me a note: Go see the babies.

The first shots aren’t very good. A little out of focus and not always well framed, but these are new born ducks. They move like skittle bugs across the water.

If you look closely, and squint to make it focus, the wee one is there; right beside mama.
If you look closely, and squint to make it focus, the wee one is there; right beside Mama.

At first we thought there were only two or three, but there are five. Two days later I got these photos.

Sometimes they move so quickly across the water that their little bodies hover above it.
Sometimes they move so quickly across the water that their little bodies hover above it.
They make me think of the juvenile mallards from last year. Eventually there were about a dozen of them and they never went anywhere without all the others. They moved as one unit at all times, like a group of teenaged girls.
They make me think of the juvenile mallards from last year. Eventually there were about a dozen of them and they never went anywhere without all the others. They moved as one unit at all times, like a group of teenaged girls.

Then yesterday, I took out the Fuji and decided it was time to keep learning on it. The dog and I headed to the pond and slowly, approached where Mama and her babies were hiding in the shade.

Mama's seen me and ushered them under a pond-side set of roots.
Mama’s seen me and ushered them under a pond-side set of roots.

I watched carefully, because Mama had turned her back and there’s always one that slips away.

She sneaks out while Mama's not looking.
She sneaks out while Mama’s not looking.

And where one goes, the others usually follow it seems.

All five ducklings in one shot, relatively at rest.
All five ducklings in one shot, relatively at rest.

Something startled them back into cover. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps the sun glinted off my lens or the dog turned her head. Still, already they are learning what to do.

Ducking back under cover, they move in formation.
Ducking back under cover, they move in formation.

One breaks cover to go to Mama, not far away. The resulting photograph gave me an insight into why the ducklings have such bright yellow faces when yellow doesn’t figure very prominently in the adults.

I have often wondered at the yellow in ducklings' colouring. I don't anymore after this one.
I have often wondered at the yellow in ducklings’ colouring. I don’t anymore after this one.

The whole time the little one swam toward her, Mama watched.

She's lovely and proud watching her little ones.
She’s lovely and proud watching her little ones.

The others stay in hiding, as they’re supposed to.

They hug the tree roots, delicate and fragile, learning to be aware of danger.
They hug the tree roots, delicate and fragile, learning to be aware of danger.

And then, one slips quietly forward and where one goes …

Perceived danger forgotten, the wee ones tentatively creep forward.
Perceived danger forgotten, the wee ones tentatively creep forward.
These two were the first to find  this log in the sun and climb aboard - Tom and Huck on their raft.
These two were the first to find this log in the sun and climb aboard – Tom and Huck on their raft.
This shot just tickles.
This shot just tickles.
Look at the spots on their backs, adding to the natural reflective camo, as Huck shoves Tom further up the log to make room for Becky.
Look at the spots on their backs, adding to the natural reflective camo, as Huck shoves Tom further up the log to make room for Becky.
And then they were two once more, except I think Huck's been shoved off the log.
And then they were two once more, except I think Huck’s been shoved off the log.

We missed this last year and I had often wondered how early the ducklings were born that they were so large when I first saw them toward the end of May last year. Now I know.

My guess is that given the timing of my first photos of the Goslings last year, they will be next. However, as I stood up and continued my walk, I saw this. She’s in the same spot as last year and by the end of May, I’ll be looking at the baby Coots.

It's April 12 and she's on the nest.
It’s April 12 and she’s on the nest.

I’m looking forward to the coming months, watching the little families grow.

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