Shelduck duckling dabbling in mud
pic Photographed from a permanent hide using a Nikon F801 camera with Nikkor 400mm lens and a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter mounted on a Benbo tripod; taken at 1/500th second at f3.5 on Kodachrome 64 film rated at ISO 64 and processed normally; no filters used.

Diffuse high-angled sunlight about mid-morning, June.

Brownsea Island Nature Reserve, Poole Harbour, England.

The story behind the picture....

"One particular summer I made several trips over to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, a few miles from where I live. There I would sit in the Nature Reserve hides overlooking a shallow-water lagoon and watch for anything that might come within range of my camera lens. My main interest soon centred on the newly-arrived Shelduck ducklings which paddled around the watery mud accompanied by their parents.

"The Shelducks nest in burrows and under bushes around the shore of the lagoon and the little downy ducklings are able to feed for themselves almost immediately they hatch and leave the nest. Once on the open mudflats of the lagoon, they would rush around with their beaks in the mud, sifting for small invertebrates and looking like so many miniature animated vaccuum cleaners, their little webbed feet pattering and splattering as they went.

"Occasionally, they would gradually work their way closer to the hide and, at last, they would come into camera-range.

"At the start of my photography sessions, I was using a camera with a bolt-on motor-drive which was, unfortunately, a bit noisy, and so when the little ducklings came close enough for photography (about 7 metres away) the sound of the shutter firing and motor-drive sent them scattering away across the watery mud, their little webbed feet splish-sploshing and sending mud flying into the air. This was highly amusing to see but, of course, then meant another long wait before they came back into camera-range - and when they at last did, the same thing would happen all over again!. Gradually, they did learn to ignore the noise but by my next visit the whole process would be repeated!

"All my attempts to deaden the noisy camera/motor-drive (with clothing, mainly) without making the camera impossible to operate were ineffective and it became such a frustrating problem that I decided to buy one of the newer cameras with a built-in motor-drive which was much quieter in all respects.

"The first time I used the new camera a few days later, the ducklings took absolutely no notice of the sound from it, and from then on I could shoot away to my heart's content without causing them any disturbance as I attempted to capture on film the antics of these amusing little bundles of fluff as they stomped and dabbled through the mud. Great fun!"

Geoff Doré

Back to Larger Image

Another story ...          Stories... Index

Prints          Image Files Categories          Main Index          Enquiry Form

This page last revised: Jan 2002

Our e-commerce web site with full search facilities is at