Hitching a Ride

Martin Smart

Nanaimo, Canada

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2nd Place in the Spring Beginnings Challenge in the Pacific Northwest Photography & Art Group

2nd Place in the Swans, Gees and Ducks Challenge in The World As We See It , or as we missed it Group

2nd Place in the New Begins Challenge in the Breathtaking Animals & Plants Group

3rd Place in the Your Best Duck Picture Challenge in the Amazing Wildlife Group

Featured in “Americas ~ Rural, Urban, Wild, Free” October 2009
Featured in “The Great Outdoors” May 2010
Featured in “Wild Nature Photography & Writing” January 2011
Featured in “Canadiana” January 2011
Featured in “Closeups in Nature” May 2011
Featured in “The World As We See It, or as we missed it” June 2011
Featured in “Featured For A Challenge” September 2011
Featured in “Alphabet Soup” January 2013
Featured in “Pacific Northwest Photography” January 2013

A mother Common Merganser with two of her ducklings on her back getting a free ride and eleven more following behind – and, believe it not, there is a fourteenth following just out of picture!
Common Mergansers are fish-eaters and have serrated edges to their bills to assist in gripping their prey. Along with other species of Mergansers, they are often called “sawbills” . They also eat mussels and shrimps; and the young birds mainly eat aquatic insects.
I photographed this family for a couple of hours at French Creek, Vancouver Island BC and it was amusing to watch the antics of the duckings who made frequent attempts to climb on to their mother’s back, whilst on the ocean and also when they were resting on the seashore. Several times whilst on the ocean mother would dive under to get them off her back only to find that as soon as she resurfaced they would attempt to climb back on again!
The ducklings would also swim around on their own for food but never too far away from mum to whom they would swiftly return if there was any threat of danger – such as a Bald Eagle that was flying past looking for an easy lunch!

Canon 20D
1/1000sec f8 ISO 200

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