Silly waterfowl. In a state where everybody seems to have a shotgun in the back of their pickup, for some reason waterfowl here are quite shy when people are around. For a bird photographer, that makes life a wee bit difficult. It’s practically impossible to be walking, standing, or otherwise visible and be within shooting range of most waterfowl here. Fortunately, there are several ways of using blinds that allow you to get extremely close…sometimes so close that the birds are too close for my 400mm lens to focus (it has a 12 foot minimum focusing distance).
After a blizzard and 19″ total inches of snow last week, today is sunny and 60. I left before dawn and went west of Sioux Falls in search of waterfowl and shorebirds. The shorebirds weren’t around, but there certainly were plenty of waterfowl. I won’t go into the details (I had a post once about the blinds I use to get close to birds), but this morning used a combination of three blinds…1) my car, 2) a portable blind I always have with me, and 3) a permanent blind build on a local wetland. GREAT morning of shooting, with absolutely perfect light for some of these. Some pics from the day:
Female and Male Redhead, taken in some nice warm, early morning light on a local wetland.
One of my favorite little birds, a Pied-billed Grebe. They’re not as shy as all the ducks and geese around here, but they do have a nasty habit of just slowly sinking below the surface and swimming away underwater, RIGHT when you’re about to hit the shutter on the camera. Was glad to get a nice detailed shot in the light right after sunrise.
“Just” a mallard. “Just”? JUST!?!?! I admit that’s my opinion too many times, but you have to admit a drake Mallard is one damned beautiful duck.
It’s not just waterfowl moving through right now. Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels are seemingly everywhere right now, and today MANY Swainson’s Hawks like this one showed up.
With snow still on the ground in many places and temperatures only starting to warm up in the last couple of days, I wasn’t sure what I’d find this morning, but I think the birds are moving more by the calendar than the temperature. I did run across one large wetland with many Great Egrets foraging in the shallows.
Such beautiful birds! Such wonderful lighting this morning! This may be one of my favorite duck photos that I’ve ever taken.
A Double-crested Cormorant swimming near the shoreline. They are SUCH cool birds when you see them up close, with those impossibly blue turquoise eyes.
A male Blue-winged Teal. One of the most common dabbling ducks around here, and not all that colorful (until they fly), but they do have some wonderfully intricate patterns on their flanks, along with the unique face crescent.
A male Lesser Scaup, one of the most common diving ducks we get in migration.