My Unusual Encounter with a Duck

As a photographer, I go where the birds are. Recently I had an unusual encounter with a Muscovy Duck while on a photo excursion.

Lake Casitas, California

Until just recently I never visited Lake Casitas, a manmade lake in Ventura County. Distance isn’t the issue. It is only 90 minutes from where I live. I suppose the primary reason for never visiting is I’ve preferred salt water to fresh water most of my life. As a child, we camped at the beach, not lakes. However, with my reclaimed love of photography, I actively seek fresh bodies of water. Why? That’s where the birds are.

The Casitas lake area is enormous. It was a long walk to any of the lakefronts. Many bumpy dirt paths that moved through rustic raw beauty. We were in heaven.

One particular path that went to a different and distant part of the lake intrigued us. We had already done a considerable amount of walking but decided to venture out just a bit more. It was about a ½ mile walk to the water. We enjoyed the many hawks circling the fields of multi-colored brush at the base of beautiful mountains off in the distance. Lovely. Simply lovely.

The Duck

Once we reached the water, we noticed a rather large sandbar, for lack of a better term, with some ducks on it. We ventured on over. We came across a Muscovy duck resting in the grass. It is an unmistakable breed of duck. Often referred to a small goose, the duck is large, black and white, with red facial skin growths called wattles. Red and warty looking, not exactly attractive. But this particular fellow was rather handsome. And he was peculiarly interested in us.

He got up and waddled over to where I stood. I kneeled to get photos of him. He was SO friendly. I was surprised. He even let me pet him. How unusual. I doubted the birds in this stretch of the lake have much contact with humans yet alone fed. I’ve encountered these ducks at a lake close to home – where they are fed continuously. NEVER did any duck allow itself to be touched by a human.

The Attack

After I finished petting Mr. Duck, he wandered over to look up at my friend, Circe. He stretched, then returned to me. By now I am sitting on the ground. I guess he didn’t like that. Suddenly he started to peck at me. I should say pinch me with his beak. He was hissing. And he nipped everywhere – my feet, arms, chest, back. It didn’t hurt, but it sure was startling. And he didn’t stop until I stood up. What the heck?

The Reason

We continued to walk the sandbar, and this duck followed very close behind us. I saw a white duck nesting up ahead. I zoomed in with my camera lens and saw a red warty face. Ah ha! This was the mate of our friend…and he was protecting her from our wanderlust. Not wanting to upset Mr. Duck any further, we turned and left the area. He immediately lost interest in us. Instead, he waddled towards his beloved.

See for yourself

My encounter with a duck is an experience I will never forget. I put together a short video capturing the adventure. Enjoy!