Let sleeping ducks lie

Several weeks passed before I was able to check on the progress of our three mallard ducklings again, and in this time the trio had transformed almost beyond recognition into fully fledged young ducks. At around two months old they were now able to fly and were nearing their independence.

Although still lacking their distinctive breeding plumage, it was now possible to identify the males from the females by looking for a few telltale clues… Of the three surviving ducklings I could identify two males and one female.

The young female was almost identical to her mother and the other adult females, her petite size now the only real indicator of her immaturity.

Immature female mallard

The young drakes were noticeably larger than their female sibling, with a flash of emerald green just visible on the tops of their heads.

Whilst the female has dark orange beak streaked with black, the males’ beaks are more yellowish in colour and will eventually turn bright as they moult into their breeding plumage during the winter months.

Duck (left) and drake (right)

An unusual calm had descended on the mallard flock today. Now almost fully grown and with little to threaten them, they were completely at ease and happy to laze about in the pleasant morning sunshine. With mother keeping a sleepy eye on proceedings a short distance away the young mallards settled down for a spot of preening in the grass.

The youngsters preening at mother snoozing in the background
Two of the ducklings with mum snoozing in the background

With the mallards being so obliging, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to capture some intimate portraits. Getting down to eye level with them and using a shallow depth of field produced just the images I was hoping for.

Do not disturb

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All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2021

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