Tuesday, January 25, 2011
One Drake canvasback amongst twenty odd ducks -- scaup, gadwall, bufflehead, ring-necked ducks, mallards. Most of the ducks are sleeping, preening or just lazing about the murky pond. The milky winter sunshine brings little warmth to the chilly air. The canvasback is busy feeding. He thrusts up, half out of the water to gain momentum, wings still tight to his side, and then arcs into a dive. I count slowly, 1, 2, 3, … 8, 9, 10 seconds underwater. Up he pops like a cork released from the depths. Water silvers off his head and back. It slips and shines like the mercury I used to play with when a child.
Several dives later he stays underwater longer than usual, … 11, 12, 13, 14 seconds. Gooey! He’s been foraging in the mucky pond bottom. All of his bill and half of his face is slobbered in dark mud. His bright red eye shines like a glowing ember buried in a bed of charcoal.
Soon after the canvasback swims to a just barely submerged log and climbs on. Time to clean up, then nap.
Sketched and inked on location. Color added at home.