Photo © Ian Coristine/
 You are here:  Back Issues      Archive

Capturing a Miracle…

Editor’s Note:  Martin Zonnenberg is one of our region’s most patient and accomplished photographers.  I wrote his profile in June 2010 with his photographs from Grindstone Island.   This winter I visited Martin at his home in Mt. Dora Florida.  I was able to “squeeze” into his photographic blind that he placed on the shoreline on his property.  From there he can watch the world of wildlife go by.  That day we did not see any gators, but we did see many birds.  In late April Martin sent this photo essay to TI Life.  I am certain you will be just as amazed as he was.

One early morning in April (2012), while sitting in my photo blind in Mt. Dora, Florida, and observing all kinds of wildlife activity going on around the nesting boxes on our shoreline, something all of a sudden  a noise caught my full attention.

A female wood duck left her nesting box and landed right underneath her box.  She started to make a very special kind of call, very softly...…  A call which I had never heard before.

She kept on looking upward and ‘the miracle’, which I had never seen before, started to happen.  Very quickly, one after the other, 15 baby ducklings came all tumbling down without any hesitation, they splashed in the water and started swimming right away to ‘momma duck’ who kept on calling until all baby ducklings were there.

Right away, without loosing any time, she took all 15 ducklings to safety, deep inside the reeds.

One after the other came tumbling out of the next box…
A duckling came tumbling down…
And tumbling down they came a total of fifteen…
Splash…  another arrives.
A prefect specimen…
Mother gathers her brood, is she counting?
The final one waits its turn…
And tumbling down they came…
Finally ready to move to safety amongst the reeds.

By Martin Zonnenberg

Martin and Ineke Zonnenberg have two homes, which truly have some of the best habitats for water birds- Grindstone Island in the 1000 Islands and in Mount Dora on Lake Dora in Florida. Martin is out in his boat at dawn when the birds begin their day.  "By 9 A.M. you might as well go and have a coffee", he says, "by then the birds are gone". His specialized digital equipment allows him to capture hundreds of images, daily, and the evenings provide time to sort, discard and choose the very best memories.  He does not sell his photographs  but shares them with family and friends.  He is also extremely generous by providing prints to non-profit organizations in the region.  A number of his beautiful photographs can be seen in office of the Thousand Islands Land Trust in Clayton.

Editor's note:  You may view Martin Zonnenberg's website at  Enjoy!
Posted in: Photography
Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Comment by: LyndaCrothers ( )
Left at: 6:38 AM Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Thank You what a cute story, early Tues. foggy morn. We had robins that flew out with a bang of the back door but they weren't as happy as these ducks.
Skip Tolette
Comment by: Skip Tolette ( )
Left at: 6:52 AM Tuesday, May 15, 2012
We are pleased to see Martin get some recognition for his marvelous talent---thank youKDBXhF
Rick Casali
Comment by: Rick Casali ( )
Left at: 9:49 AM Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Marty, Wonderful photos! thanks for sharing these amazing first flyers. Hope to see you this season. Rick
Julio Valbuena
Comment by: Julio Valbuena ( )
Left at: 3:51 PM Tuesday, May 15, 2012
What a picture of their FIRST FLIGHT !!! , WHAT A WONDEFUL TIMING , produced a W . .h. . o.. a . . a .. !!!!!!!
Thank you for allowing me to see it. Julio
Steve Jarvis
Comment by: Steve Jarvis ( )
Left at: 9:34 PM Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Stunning photography. Even the "splash" is captured beautifully. Do you have a website with your collection?

Steve Jarvis
Susie Smith
Comment by: Susie Smith
Left at: 7:45 AM Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Yes. Martin Zonnenberg's website is


Susan W. Smith, editor.
Peter Hollander
Comment by: Peter Hollander ( )
Left at: 11:56 PM Saturday, May 26, 2012
Always a plesure to see nature in action Im always looking out for a glimps of something new and wonderfull and this seriese of photos are classics. Thank you for shareing.
Jan van Woerkom
Comment by: Jan van Woerkom ( )
Left at: 3:08 AM Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Hi Mart, Enjoyed your photos and hope to re establish contact
Was overlooking a small bird sanctuary in Manly, Brisbane,Aus
with at least 20 different species at times, some of which seemed to prefer the the masthead Windex (a merry go round for them), mainly the magpies singing away but also the odd osprey.
Keep the good works of nature photography up!

Jan and Corrie. AUQSd2