Monday, January 9, 2012

The Panda Duck

Before I went to Fukuoka, I read that a small flock of Smew (Mergellus albellus) was found at Imazu but I didn't really expect that I would find it. I was too focusing on how to get photos of the Black-faced Spoonbills up close. However, it turned out that I failed to see the Black-faced Spoonbill at close range, but I got Smew as my latest lifer instead. Even though I've never been chasing after this smart black and white duck before, somewhere deep in my birding heart humbly wished that I'd be able to see it at least once in my life. It's not one of those extremely rare bird but it's a bird with charisma. If someone asks me to name one of the coolest ducks on earth, I'd definitely say Smew. In Japan, it is widely known for another quite appropriate and lovely name, the Panda Duck or パンダガモ (panda-gamo) in Japanese.

Male Smew (Mergellus albellus)

The black marks on its white body make the male bird look like the Giant Panda, especially when the bird is facing towards the camera. There was 1 male bird in a group of 3 females. At first, I found them swimming in a large lotus pond along with some hundreds other ducks. All of them flushed up after I tried to approach and landed in a small fishing pond nearby where the Eurasian Spoonbill in the earlier post was found. They seemed to be more relaxed and a bit more approachable here. After floating around back and forth in the pond for about half an hour, they began to feed by diving into the water just like other diving ducks. There were about 20-30 Common Pochards in the pond as well and I had much fun watching all of them diving up and down in the small pond.

Female Smews (Mergellus albellus)


Even though they became more approachable once they moved into the fishing pond, they still kept a good distance from me. These photos are quite heavily cropped so the sharpness and the quality of them might not be as good as in the other posts. It was quite difficult for me to get the right focus on the birds as well, since I was using the lowest f-stop that I could (f/5.6) because I want the background to be blurry, so the birds would become more outstanding. There wouldn't be any problem about focusing if the birds were in close range, but because all of them were far out in the pond, so most of the time my camera focused on the water ripples in front of the birds or behind them instead. Anyway, I already feel really satisfied with the result of this unexpected find. Hope they'll be staying in the same area when I go back there again soon.

10 comments:

Stuart Price said...

You did pretty well despite the cropping, I've never really managed a decent shot of this species, they are so shy where I see them........

Russell said...

Nice shots. Congratulations on these photos. I have experienced that they are shy, but they are very cool. Every time I tried to focus they seemed to know about it and dive. I like how you got the male and female together.

Choy Wai Mun said...

The male is a real beauty!

Madibirder said...

Terrific catch. The male and female look so different fr one another. The face of the male does resemble a panda.

martesorex said...

Nice パンダ!

Chris said...

Wow these are nice picture seven if you had to crop them a lot. I've only seen it once over here in Iceland and that was a female ;-) Not as beautiful as the male...

John said...

Yes, a "Panda Bird" ! Great name for it.

Charounette said...

Bravo! very cute and curious. Do people eat this kind of duck? Such thing does exist !

Charounette said...

ps. is it normal that I cannot leave a comment in the older post? Tried but it didn't work.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks a lot everyone!
I haven't heard about anyone eating Smew beforeh. Seems like many people have problems with posting comments. I really have no idea about it though. Might be something about internet browser?