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James Chagares

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  1. I found a Mallard family, June 23, 2021, on Springwood Lake in Richmond, Indiana. I knew the chicks were just born because I had been going to the lake each day to photograph other waterfowl. I know that the mothers will take the ducklings to water as soon as they hatch so they can begin feeding themselves. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get to see the nest. I decided to not only photograph them but to record video as well. So, it was up at five and at the lake before dawn each day for the next three months. I was lucky the mother didn’t mind having me follow them around or I would never have been able to capture such a story in the wild. She got so used to me being around her chicks that I was able to stand in the river on the rock beds where they were feeding. It didn’t take long to figure out their daily routine which was pretty consistent the first two months. Initially, I would find them each morning at the waterfalls on the river that runs through the park. The river is about 75 yards from the lake. They would spend a couple of hours each morning feeding at the falls before they made their way upstream to find a place to nap. Then back to feeding again. Each day I waited for them to get swept over the falls but they never did. If they traveled too far upstream, I would lose them. I was not able to follow all of the riverbank because of all the trees and underbrush. If I waited long enough, she would walk them to the lake later in the afternoon to explore different places on the lake. As she swam them along the lakeshore, I would try to stay ahead of them to film as they came towards me. She would have the entire lake to get out on the shore but many times she would get them out right where I was standing. They became really comfortable with having me around. They would preen for a while then down for another nap. There were also many times she would go for a fly while they slept leaving them with me. Unlike other wildlife I have observed, she had no interaction with her chicks. There was never any display of affection, cleaning, snuggling, etc. This may have been different on cool summer nights when the baby ducklings would still need her warmth, however, it was never anything that I observed. The mother was always in a constant state of alert and awareness, always standing erect and on guard. She didn’t spend much time feeding herself but was extremely patient while they fed, again, always keeping guard. The chicks, however, would often snuggle together when sleeping and would many times have short moments of interaction. The chicks were never aggressive towards each other but had no problem stealing food from one another. There are many other ducks and geese on the lake and river. She always managed to avoid them or chase them off, at least for the first couple of months when her ducklings were small. There was a female juvenile Hooded Merganser that was always looking for a friend to hang out with. Most of the time the mother Mallard would try to chase the little Merganser off but other times she would tolerate her. Needless to say, it was exciting to see their first flight. The research I had done said they would begin flying between 50 and 60 days. They were right on schedule, 54 days, with a crash landing. I had this great expectation all along of getting a video clip of them all taking off flying at the same time. Little did I know that just when they began to fly, she would molt her flight feathers and couldn’t fly. Now they would fly back and forth from the river to the lake without her. She had to walk, quacking all the way to the lake. She would swim and quack until she located them. They hung together for a couple of weeks after they could all fly. During that time, they would sometimes go off on their own but would always get back together as a family. I wasn’t certain when I would be finished following them. After I spent a week without being able to find them together, I decided the time had come. So, this is how I spent the summer of, 2021. I have to say it couldn’t have been better. I only fell in the river once even though I was walking and standing in it every day. That’s only the third river I have fallen into with my camera gear through the years but those are stories for a different time. Canon R5 Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II + 1.4x Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II + 2x 4K D 4096 x 2160 59.94P IPB Light Video:
  2. Thank you for clearing this up for me. I also thought it unusual that a Trumpeter and Tundra would pair up. However, they are traveling with a Mute Swan. So at that point I figured anything is possible. There is a family of three Mutes on this pond. The one in this pictures is a fourth. The Tundras and Mute hang together and will fly out for three or four hours then return together. Also, the other Mutes are very aggressive toward this outsider Mute. The all black bill is what threw me. Thank you Avery for clearing up the difference in the forehead. I understand the size difference but I don't know how much bigger the Trumpeters are so I wasn't able to make that call. I have never seen Tundras and Trumpeters together to actually see the size difference. One thing I do know is, I can always count on this forum. Jim
  3. I photographed these two Swans yesterday 12/28/2020 at Fernald Nature Preserve near Cincinnati. Seems to me one is a Tundra and one a Trumpeter. Some folks are saying they are both Tundras. I understand the yellow in the bill but I also know the shape of the bill is a determining factor. I tried to provide you with as many different views of the head turns as I could. Jim
  4. Someone posted a picture of a Clark's Grebe with a chick on the back. There is a red patch on the top of the chick's head. They stated that they found information about it that said it is related to begging for food. The more the bird begged, the brighter red the crown patch. Once fed, it fades to a lighter pink. So, if a parent has more than one chick, it can tell which one is due to get the next meal. I couldn't find any information about that. I was just wondering if that is true. Thank you in advance, Jim
  5. Taken in Arizona 3/8/2019. Not sure if it is a female Vermilion Flycatcher or Say's Phoebe. Thank you in advance, Jim
  6. Taken May 24th. I think it is a Vesper sparrow. I don't think the beak is that dark, looks dirt. Thank you in advance, Jim
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