A is out of town on business and, my work being closed yesterday, Booker and I went out to chase ducks. We found a few, with a bunch of mallards and a bunch of wigeon each trying to land on us twenty minutes after legal shooting hours and just as the light got good enough for me to be comfortable shooting. We knocked down a bird out of each bunch and then proceeded to wait and watch as nearly everything quit flying. We passed a hen mallard that didn't try to come in and then were passed in turn by another half-dozen wigeon. After a couple of hours a bird came down river flying low and slipped right over the decoys. The bird backlit, I saw green on the head and decided "drake mallard" and shot, knocking it down. Booker began a less than spectacular retrieve.
Here he is barely keeping the bird in hand, as it were:
When he got it to me after a quick re-position I figured I had a hen mallard. On closer look, the bird had the yellow bill with black tip of a drake, a black tail with curly tailfeathers, and a streak of bright green on either side of the head, fading up toward the top. Apart from that, it sported the mottled feathering of a hen mallard along with the dark blue speculum that you'd expect. Perhaps a bird that had remained in eclipse plumage (though that shouldn't be, so far south and this time of year), or a hybrid, or a "manky mallard". The bird is still alive in the last photo and I was a bit uncertain about putting it up. If folks think it's inappropriate, I'll pull it. In any event, by the time Booker had gotten all the way in, the bird had expired. No surprise, given the obvious head wound.
No closeup photos for the 'net, they were all a bit too gory. Interesting bird, anyway. The green on the head was a lot more prominent in hand.
The only other adventure for the day came when a slipped in ankle deep water while moving a couple of decoys and managed to go down, losing the shotgun off my shoulder and dunking it completely underwater and into the mud. Curses ensued. With any decent luck at all, that's an entire season's worth of falling in water right there. Once again erect, I took off my right glove (full of water) and unloaded, pouring water out of the barrel, magazine tube, receiver and (hooray, plastic!) stock. Back on dry land I wiped off the mud, checked the barrel, then blasted it interior of the receiver with "One Shot" cleaner and dry lube. WD-40 would have been a better choice under the circumstances, in terms of hosing out bits of grit and removing water, but the Hornady stuff worked well enough to keep the gun functioning. I've used it before to keep a balky autoloader running more smoothly, but this was a significantly tougher test. Also, dry lube is a good choice in this country of blowing sand.
Once home, I had over an hour of breaking the gun all the way down, cleaning it very thoroughly, then lubing and reassembling. Probably could have used a good cleaning, anyway.