View 109: On Webster Pond

Ducks fill the sky over Webster Pond in Syracuse, New York, after being startled by a visitor to the park.

Ducks fill the sky over Webster Pond in Syracuse, New York, after being startled by a visitor to the park.

Taking advantage of a warm and sunny January day, I visited Webster Pond just south of Syracuse, New York, to photograph the waterfowl who call it home.  I wanted to try and capture the faces and grace of the ducks and geese.

Portraits of some of the residents of Webster Pond.

Portraits of some of the residents of Webster Pond.

Webster Pond has hundreds of Canada geese, Mallard ducks and domestic geese gone wild.  People come daily to feed them with various mixes of seed and corn.  I saw families with young children enjoying the afternoon feeding the waterfowl.  The smiles on their faces and sounds of their laughter I hope nurture a love for wild creatures in the generations to come.

Mallard ducks flying over Webster Pond. Taken with the Nikon 80-400 VR lens.

Mallard ducks flying over Webster Pond. Taken with the Nikon 80-400 VR lens.

Ducks can fly.  The gift of flight Man was so jealous of, he created machines so he could join the ducks and birds of the world in the great blue yonder.  Ducks beat there wings very fast unlike the long beats of bigger birds like Canada geese and raptors.  When coming in for landings on water or ice, as Webster Pond was mostly covered in, they glide and pitch from side to side to slow down and angle for an open area devoid of others.  Their landings in water ending in a long splash.  Their landings on ice a much more comical slide often ending on their behinds but always popping up on their webbed feet with dignity.

I used the Nikon 18-200mm VR and Nikon 80-400mm VR lenses to bring you these images.  Though the 80-400 VR is an older and slower focusing lens, with practice it can be used for fast moving subjects like birds in flight.  It does need very good light in order to do so like my day on Webster Pond.

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23 Responses to View 109: On Webster Pond

  1. Gerry says:

    Scott, those are wonderful! The mallards especially are just beautiful.


  2. milkayphoto says:

    Love the story, Scott. You’ve managed to capture the ducks in their more graceful moments – I bet your “outtakes” are comical! I photographed the ducks flying the same day I shot the seagulls and it was hysterical seeing how gangly and erratic the Mallards were in comparison. They certainly live up to their cartoon depictions! 🙂


  3. Sandy Foultz says:

    Scott, Those pictures are fantastic. You do such a fantastic job – you should enter some of your photos in competition – you do an outstanding job.


  4. lle2010 says:

    I love the photo of the ducks flying. I really like the way the wings show motion.



  5. Great shots Scott, I especially like the ducks lifting off, very cool shot !!


  6. montucky says:

    Terrific photos, Scott, all of them! I love waterfowl and there are lots of them here, but they’re so wild I can seldom get within range for a shot.


  7. Nye says:

    Beautiful shots Scott, especially the ones flying. I didn’t expect to see this many up North this time of the year.


  8. Mike Criss says:

    Scott, fantastic in-flight shots. Did you get all these shots on one outing? If you did, I am very impressed.


    • I got all of these in about an hour of shooting. The light was perfect. I was near an area of open water and the ducks would fly from the ice to the water. I stood along the flight path and had lots of opportunities as they flew by. Some, like these, I even got focused! 🙂


  9. giiid says:

    These are beautiful,Scott. The colors of the feathers realy “comes out”, specially the shiny green is remarkable.


  10. Marvelous images, Scott. You’ve done an admirable job of capturing mallards in flight (my favorite’s the middle one on the left)as well as some handsome portraits. As always, your photos are perfectly exposed. I love the brilliant color and detail in each bird’s feathers. Were you all the way out to 400mm on the flight shots?


    • Thank you, Karen. I watched them fly by for about a half hour before I started photographing them. They are so quick and powerful when they fly.

      Yes, all those were taken at 400mm which for my camera works out to be 600mm in 35mm terms. Plus, I cropped them a bit. I was very pleased with the detail I was getting for an old 6MP sensor. Good light helped! 🙂


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