Years ago I worked with a bunch of duck hunters. One day one of them mentioned Wood Ducks to me, and described their appearance (this was long before the internet and Wikipedia). I decided then and there that I was going to get some photographs of some, and asked where I could find them in this area. I was told that they were all over the place; ponds, lakes, anything with water. So off I set with my little camera, weekend after weekend, with never a Wood Duck to be found.
Fast forward to 2010. That would be nearly 35 (that’s thirty five!) years later and I still haven’t seen a wood duck. While walking around Radnor Lake with my camera one day a man asked if I had seen anything worth photographing. I told him that I hadn’t and he said, “I haven’t either. Just a pair of Wood Ducks up the lake a bit.” I said, “Uh, did you say Wood Ducks???” and he said, “Sure. Want me to show you where they are?” I said that I certainly did and he pointed them out to me. About 200 yards away and me with a little 300mm lens.
OK, at least I can finally say I have seen some Wood Ducks but I’d sure like to see some a bit closer than a mile away.
Fast forward a bit more to August, 2011. I went to an outing with some people from my office today, and was lazily floating around on Center Hill Lake on a pontoon boat. Some ducks came up close to the boat and one of the guys started feeding them some crackers which brought them even closer. I looked at them and saw brown feathers and said, “Just a bunch of Mallards …” since this area is covered with Mallards and this time of year both the hens and drakes are brown. Then I figured what the heck I’ll shoot a couple of photos of them anyway. When I looked I saw that bright orange eye and said to myself, “Uh, those aren’t Mallards, those are Wood Ducks!”
So I’m getting closer! All I have to do now is find them in spring plumage and I’ll have completed a 35+ year quest.