The Good Luck Wood Duck

Originally published March 2013

Some time in January, I think (though it could have been December), I noticed a duck that was different from the other ducks in the Pond in Central Park. I investigated (surfed the Internet looking at duck pictures), and discovered that this handsome specimen of duckness was a wood duck. I began to photograph this Prince of  the Pond (as one of the Central Park Conservancy employees calls him) and tried to visit him as often as possible. Sometimes it was daily, sometimes more sporadic (I found it difficult sometimes to do three auditions in a day and still get to the park).

On Feb. 28, after being away from the park for two days (I'd actually gone the night before, but it was so dark I didn't really see which duck was which), I circled the Pond a couple of times and couldn't find Woody (as I now call him). I searched and searched, and began to get worried. I feared for him, so different, so unique.

People are not always good to the animals in the park. I've seen people feed french fries to the ducks, and I've seen little brats chasing the mallards and threatening to kick them. So I don't think my fear was unjustified. It was possible Woody had taken off, flown north, or south, or found a need to discover new territories. But I still worried about him. I asked a park employee (the one who called Woody the prince), and he said he hadn't seen him in two days.

As I noted on Facebook, don't fall in love with a wood duck. He'll only break your heart.

On March 1, in the morning, I walked by the Pond on my way to an appointment. A brief glimpse found no Woody. But after the appointment, I came back. And I looked. And I looked. And then ... Woody! Swimming around in the northern part of the Pond. What indescribable joy to see him again!

Those of you who have visited this page before may have seen other Central Park pictures I've snapped. I've now moved those to another page, Central Park, for the Camera, and you can see those pictures anytime you want. Those photos were taken primarily with my HP Photosmart M525, although some were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S. The HP camera was a great friend. Though not able to get terribly close, it was reliable and easy to use. But on the day of the victory parade after the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, I got jostled and pushed so much in the crush of the crowd that I dropped the HP and since that time it had worked —  or not —  on its own schedule. By March 1, it was choosing not to work except with great coaxing, and by the end of my Central Park walk, it was dropped one more time, and never recovered.

I couldn't face the idea of taking my walks without a camera to capture what I see when I open my eyes to look. A camera keeps me focused (pun intended), and looking, really looking. So instead of paying some bills I should have paid, I found a new camera, a Canon PhotoShoot SX500 IS, and I bought it. I spent the evening after a Carnegie concert charging the battery and reading the manual. By the morning of March 2, I was ready to take it for a test run.

The first picture of Woody, above, was from the HP camera. The female mallard (the following picture) was one  of the last pictures taken by the HP before it bit the dust. I am so happy with so many of the pictures I took with the HP. But now it's time for the Canon. I have used Canons for a long time (I still have my TLB and my AE1, which went with me on many trips, including an African safari). I've noticed that the battery on the new Canon doesn't last as long as I'd like, so I've ordered two backups to carry with me. (The battery died on March 2 before
I could take another 200 pictures of Woody.)

I hope you enjoy seeing these new pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The second photo of Woody, also above, was taken by the Canon, and the detail is quite wonderful. You can see the feathering of the tail feathers.

The squirrel, right, was taken using the zoom function. I've found I really have to be steady when I zoom in this close. But since squirrels often get skittery if you get too close, it's nice to stand a bit away and not spook them. Again, the detail in the tail hairs is quite nice. I just have to practice some more.

One note: I really don't manipulate the photos I take. I might crop them, but generally I don't edit them much more than that. I have been known to take a dark photo and fix the contrast a bit, but generally what you see is what I saw.

I love the picture of the bird's back, showing all that beautiful coloring and detail. And the bark on the tree trunk.

And the blackbird [grackle] photo is just a joy for me, because these birds are so loud and aggressive, and the picture captures that.

I decided that mallards need head shots, too. So I give you two mallards up close and personal. The feather details are great fun.

One last photo from the new camera, a robin that had been digging in the dirt before I so rudely snapped its photo. I think there might be a "Ya lookin' at me?" attitude going on here.


I hope to add some more pictures soon. I will keep moving some pictures to the Previous Postings section (I'm starting to add some thumbnails on the list below). I have decided to keep the video links on this page for a while longer. I've had so much fun taking videos with my Samsung Galaxy S and editing them with music into Another Silly Video by Susan Kirby. I look forward now to seeing what the new camera can do with video. Sometimes you just have to find the money to do what you need to do to enjoy your life. That's what I decided when I bought the camera. I think I chose well.