Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Feathered Friends

California Gull wind surfing

Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 1.4X II TC and EOS 40D - ISO 640 - Spot metering - minus 1/2 stop - 1/3000 @ f5.6

My quest continued today with my searching out those first arrivals from their wintering homes to a pond near you. Of course it goes without saying that not all of the photos are of recent arrivals, as the Black Billed Magpie in my photo probably did not stray to far from where I shot his photo over the winter. I wondered what he was feeding on and once he moved on, a closer look told the tale. He had been feeding on the carcass of a female mallard duck. The day was not a joy to be out in as the jet stream had slumped south of us overnight with the hint of snow in the air and blustery winds to go with the -5 Celsius temperature.

What are you gonna do but get with the program and shut-up and shoot the photos. Still it was a very cool day requiring a heavy jacket and gloves, although from time to time I found myself blowing on my fingers to get feeling back in them. I had already removed my winter gear from the truck and put it away in the garage till it is required later this year . Still it was not all that bad and besides I forgot about the weather when the opportunity to photograph water birds such as this female Merganser swimming happily in a quiet backwater channel on the Bow arose.

All winter long Mallard ducks can be observed over-wintering in and around the city with some of their favorite haunts being the open water on the Bow, and feeding on spilt grain around the various grain elevators in the southeast part of the city. Still I always enjoy capturing more photos of these most common of ducks such as this Mallard pair bundled up in their down coats on this somewhat cool day.

I was thrilled to spot this Male Wood Duck resting on a tiny spit of ground near the IBS beneath a overhanging bank. I approached as closely as possible before I began to make him nervous and fearing that I would spook him, I set-up for this capture at a distance somewhat extreme for a good capture. Wood ducks were rarely observed in the area before the 1980's. A number of these beautiful birds were released by Alberta Fish & Wildlife in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary which is a good place to spot them in the lagoon.

Further along I came up on this Northern Shoveler who was without a mate on this day. One of his most striking features is his long spatulated bill which he puts to good use by skimming the water with it while he feeds. Northern Shovelers breed and nest throughout the province and can be spotted in shallow marshy ponds going about feeding while filtering mud with their bills.

Rounding out the ducks that I captured digital images of on this day, was this very nice looking male American Wigeon who in my photo was calling out and swimming around madly looking for his mate before finding her with calm returning to the pond.
I spent a couple of quality hours tramping the banks of the Bow on a day that started out to be a bust and ended up on a high note with captures of some of Alberta's beautiful water birds. Now if only I could find those Swans that everyone but me has observed around the southern part of the province. Later
NOTE:All photos expand

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