Ring One Up From Afar

It may not be evident from the multitude of wildlife photography posts that have been dominating this blog over the last 6 months or so, but in truth, I’m still out and about taking in everything in our so called civil society.  People are unaware, but if I’m around I’m likely socially profiling, categorizing and then observing to validate those first impressions.  I always thought one of my best fit jobs would be an FBI profiler.  Much like they must do, I’m continually building character models and applying them in every social setting I may be in.  If those model are wrong, I fold those new findings into the model and look forward to confirming them in the next setting.  This last Saturday I witnessed a very sad interaction while at a Quad City casino.  Linda and I were eating at the buffet when a lady with her suspected son and an older lady I assumed was the grandmother were seated at a nearby booth.  The original interest was the concept of bringing a child to a casino and wondering what influence that might have as the kid matures.  Clearly there was not going to be any model tweaking from that based on not being able to spend the next 3 or 4 years collecting social data.  Then something heartbreaking occurred.  A guy comes up to the table and proceeds to explain how they were not going to give him a free buffet due to a point system change of some sort.  That translated to a 20 dollar expense for dinner (that night’s buffet price).  He then gave the casino card back to the grandmother.   I ran through some models in my head, picked one and waited for validation.  Stunned, that selection failed to match reality.  Contrary to expected action of paying for the meal and spending time with the other ladies and kid.. he explained that he was just going to leave, took a step away but countered at the last minute when he noticed the kid moving toward him from the booth.  He took a step back and gave the kid a quick hug and told him he has to go.  At the same time I heard the grandmother mention something about a birthday the next day.  It must have been the kid’s because upon hearing that he reached into his pocket and pulled out a bill, put it on the table in front of the kid and said “go to the gift shot and get you something you want”.  He then left the table leaving the kid sobbing.    My heart sank.  My assessment – he had money based on the gift and he had the time or he would not have tried to get a free meal.  Instead of spending some quality time with his kid – a gift more heartfelt and nurturing than a gift shop trinket, he opted to leave a vacant hole in a young child’s life.  Now I really wanted to spend that next 3 to 4 years observing this saddened kids life.  I wished that child the best of luck under my breath, tweaked my model and went back to eating my food – a little more depressed that we continue to call ourselves a highly evolved society.

Like the experience in the casino, the following observation was also from afar.  In fact, so far out that you can barely tell you are observing a duck.  In a couple of weeks Ron and I will be doing another birding outing at Chain O’ Lakes State Park.  Being that it was April of LAST year when these were taken, figured I better get this out pronto.
Ring-Necked Duck Shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park

If you squint, stand on your head and bend your legs just right… you might be able to make out the Ring-Necked Ducks that are hanging out near the far bank.  Trust me, this was a looong way across the river and The Beast was straining with everything it had to get a bead on these distant waders.  To be honest at the distance we were shooting and my dislike for chimping on the back LCD (my brother can confirm this) I wasn’t entirely sure at that point what it was.  It had wings – that is all it takes for me to shoot it.

Ring-Necked Duck Shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park

In the digital darkroom it became apparent what these waterfowl were.  As it turns out, it is in my nemesis bird category because I have yet to get a decent printable shot of these birds.  I did get a shot of them back in 2012 up in Wisconsin (link here) to get the check mark on the Bird Life List – but like these, those were definitely not worthy of ink on paper either (the previous ones were closer though!).

Ring-Necked Duck Shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park

Just to close out the shots, figured I’d throw in a wide shot to show you how difficult it was to spot these ducks against the reed background.  That’s all for this bonus round entry.  Looking forward to checking out what the Chain has to offer us in a couple of weeks.

3 thoughts on “Ring One Up From Afar”

  1. I think we should see more of these this year. I’ve seen a few in the last month or two. Hopefully, we’ll get better looks at them this year. The ring mentioned in the name is a chestnut ring around the neck that’s usually not visible except close in good lighting, really, although it might be there in your first photograph.

    The most creative bird identification tip I’ve ever heard is for this one, that if a duck’s bill looks like a bowling shoe it’s a Ring-Necked Duck. So true!

    These ducks do tend to fade into the reeds whenever I’m around, so they are pretty skittish.

    I agree that you hate to look at pics you take in the LCD viewfinder of your camera. I do that quite a bit, although a lot of times it’s to check out the exposure (I know, there some kind of histogram thing lurking somewhere…). It also allows me to figure out whether to continue taking pictures of a bird that is worth skipping out on. I also have a tendency to go ahead and delete pics from my camera in the field if I see the subject is blurred. It saves me time later on the computer. But this only deletes the pic from the SD card I’m viewing them from, either the JPG or RAW, so after I transfer the contents of the two cards to my PC I run a script of mine that removes any photos that don’t have a matching photo with the other suffix.



  2. I am a little concerned about the temps (looks to be around 36 for the high ugh). I can’t tell if the ring on the neck is there – again, these pictures could have used more talent behind the glass.

    Good tip about the bowling shoe – never heard of that before, but sooo true.

    See everyone.. confirmed although I will take an LCD check every blue moon just to make sure nothing is drastically wrong with the camera, but beyond that… you need to have confidence you got it in the tin. I definitely DO NOT delete in the field (Ron will confirm that as well). You can always carry more cards.

    Looking forward to Saturday – need some +1’s to try and stay up to you


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