OK, so at first glance, this just looks like "a duck". Like, a normal duck.
OK, yes, fair enough, it looks like a female "normal duck", or mallard. The colour of the head is a bit lighter. And I'm not sure that I have noticed that cheeky flash of underwing colour on a "standard" (or mallard) duck.
Aha, this might be why:
The New Zealand grey duck population is believed to be extensively hybridised with introduced mallards to such an extent that few pure grey ducks may now exist, hence its “critical” conservation status. While this presumption is based entirely on phenotype, as definitive genetic studies have yet to be undertaken, the diversity of soft part and plumage characteristics of most grey duck-like New Zealand birds compared to those in Australia lends support to this belief.
Similar species: grey ducks are easily confused with female mallard from which they can be distinguished by (the following distinctive markings of a mallard):
Hybrid grey x mallard ducks are confusingly variable in most characteristics and otherwise “good” grey ducks need to be examined closely for any indication of anterior speculum stripe (alar bar) on wing (white or fawn, narrow or wide…if it is visible it is probably of hybrid ancestry), hints of orange on legs, and “dirty” cream face with indistinct edges to the facial stripes.
NZ birds online (my formatting and editing)
OK, so what's a speculum in this context? Oh, it's the cheeky flash of colour on the wing!
Distinguishing characteristics of a grey duck
So we need:
Another thing to note is that, while in New Zealand, this bird is called the grey duck or pārera, it is known internationally as the Pacific black duck.
Yes, I am going to say it
So now that we have our ducks in a row, it's time to start drawing ducks!
Last week was absolutely nuts, and unfortunately, several things came up that pushed out my ability to finish my duck design - so we are shooting for one-and-a-half designs today. Wish me luck!
I managed to do my research and get the initial outlines sketched out on Friday before things turned to custard and I had to put the design on hold, so today so far has been about choosing the final lines to draw, and filling in the feather detail.
I decided to do some really detailed feather work on these birds, as the reference photos were so crisp, so that took much longer than usual, as did the colouring of all those feathers.
Using reference photos, I tried to reflect the feather colours without compromising my ligne claire style - so no shading, or multiple hues within one outline. It meant re-colouring the same feathers several times to get the effect I wanted, and took a long time - but I eventually reached a stage that felt like a good balance between accuracy and my faithfulness to my type of stylised artwork.
Because the Gibson's Wandering Albatross ended up being a duplicate, I did a bonus grey duck, so there are 5 today.