I recently met Lake Placid based photographer John DiGiacomo at the Essex derry dock where he was photographing Common Goldeneye ducks and other waterfowl.
The Essex-Charlotte ferry channel has become a popular destination for birders ever since Lake Champlain froze over last month. Ferry captains have been meticulously nibbling back the ice to maintain a navigable passage “canal” between New York and Vermont, and thin watery strip is doubling as a sanctuary for the lake’s waterfowl (including the rare Tufted Duck) accustomed to watery diets.
I introduced myself to John while he was photographing ducks near the Essex ferry pilings and offered Rosslyn’s boathouse as an alternative “birding blind”. He hauled his tripod and gear up the road and captured those magnificent photographs of Common Goldeneye ducks from the boathouse pier.
Dramatic Goldeneye Ducks
John was humble about the photos, apologizing for the grey day: “unfortunately the light was pretty poor that morning”. I share his preference for photographing with clear, high contrast natural lighting, but I actually think the flat light adds to the drama in this series, accentuating the crisp black and white coloration of the Goldeneye ducks. Spectacular!
Knowing little about Goldeneye ducks I poked around online and discovered these cool facts about Common Goldeneye ducks:
- The eyes of a Common Goldeneye are gray-brown at hatching. They turn purple-blue, then blue, then green-blue as they age. By five months of age they have become clear pale green-yellow. The eyes will be bright yellow in adult males and pale yellow to white in females.
- A female Common Goldeneye often lays eggs in the nest of another female… She may lay in the nests of other species of ducks as well.
- After the ducklings leave the nest they can feed themselves and require only protection. Some females abandon their broods soon after hatching, and the young will join another female’s brood. Such mixed broods, known as “creches,” may also occur when a female loses some ducklings after a territorial fight with another female. Young scatter and mix when females fight, and not all of them get back to their mother when the fight ends. Some or all of the ducklings may be transferred to one brood, usually that of the territory owner. (