I have had several ideas and pictures saved for the “It Happens Over Time” theme but, a wonderful opportunity to shoot something unique appeared among the bushes and trees in my front yard a month ago. On Wednesday May 27th I arrived home after running some errands to our landscapers mowing and trimming the bushes. One of them informed me we had a duck nest in front of the house. I had no idea it was there so of course I went in and grabbed my camera to get a shot of the eggs. Momma had been frightened off her beloved nest while the men were working near her. The eggs were a beautiful shade of green and larger than a chicken egg and I counted 7.
ISO 160 Focal length 225mm Aperture f/6.3 Shutter speed 1/320
I discovered through research the Momma was a Florida Mottled Duck, a member of the Mallard family. She had a little blue on her wings but, other than that a fairly plain looking brown duck. I was amazed how much she blended into the mulched beds under the bushes. Once the eggs have been lain they can take up to 28 days to hatch. I was lucky enough to see the nest through our dining room window, so was able to check the status of the nest several times a day and she was always there. I have no idea when she left to get food or drink. I never once saw any sign of Papa.
After watching and watching for the babies to hatch and praying I would get lucky enough to see them, on Monday June 15, I stepped outside to water some plants and heard little cheeping sounds. I went in the house and peaked at the nest and sure enough Momma stood up and all the babies poured out from underneath her. Well, I was more than thrilled to say the least! Grabbing my camera I went outside and waited patiently for her to bring them out of the bushes. Slowly she gained confidence realizing I wasn’t going to hurt her and out she came crossing the sidewalk into the grass with not 7 but 9 babies!
ISO 100 Focal length 92mm Aperture f/8 Shutter speed 1/200
Obviously 2 of the eggs had been hiding underneath the others. What a beautiful site it was to watch her so proudly strut across my yard, into the street, across the neighbors yard until finally reaching water. And in they went swimming closely behind her. I came back to check on the nest to see if any eggs had not hatched and the only thing left were 2 halves of a shell. This really surprised me and I wondered what happened to the rest of the shells. I surmised that either the momma or babies ate them for nourishment.
Since they left the nest I haven’t had the opportunity to go searching for them. I hope they all survive and perhaps Momma will return next year to start this wondrous process all over again!