It’s the middle of April and the Loons are still on the New England shores and inlets. I have been told the lakes are still frozen up north.
While they may not be migrating yet their mating plumage is evident. During the winter they are fairly drab in color. Come spring the striking black and white coloring we associate with Loons returns.
One of the great things to witness with Loons is the take off. In the water they are incredibly graceful. On land they can hardly stand.
However, when a Loon takes flight to leave the water it’s a sight to behold.
Basically they standup on their big web feet (in the water) and start to flap their wings….. and run really really fast. Ultimately they get in the air, but you almost feel yourself trying to help them.
Photographing wildlife in a marsh is incredibly frustrating.
Birds and animals that are tolerant of people don’t live here. This week in the marsh I have seen more Great Blue Heron at one time than all of last month. There are more types of ducks in a single pond than most of the river.
However, they will see you first. Living in the reeds and thickets gives all but me a perfect hiding place. A good photo is timing, patience, and luck.
I had commented earlier in the week I wanted to photograph some Beaver and Muskrats. While standing by the reeds and pretty much staring into space I noticed the water and plants moving.
Because I was so still several Muskrats surfaced and began to gather plants and reeds. I did get several shots and I don’t think they felt any rush to get away.
When I first started out I had a plan to reach the far end of the Marsh trail. Here the rivers, marsh, and streams all meet. A perfect location for all the local wildlife.
Unfortunately the trail also ends on top of a hill looking down on the swamp. Anyone walking on the hill top is quickly seen. And I was, by many Herons and other locals.
It’s a long walk but next time I will go directly there, no wandering around, and just sit on the bank for awhile. It worked for the Muskrats.
I know that for every good day of photography there is a bad day, or two. The more images we get, the more critical we get, and then the more bad days we get. It’s a good thing. If not the internet would have even more out of focus cat pictures.
Last week was more bad than good. We had the opportunities. One day we watched an amazing display by Ospreys. We managed some fair photos, no good ones though. None would tell a story, which is what we always want.
The good news was a better day appeared right after.
The other day, before the ground thawed and the spring mud took over, I went down to the local marsh lands. As soon as I arrived a large Red Tailed Hawk came into the open area. He stayed, preened, and gave me the ‘eye’ for intruding. This was an extra large bird and the coloring amazing. I was able to take plenty of shots.
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Since the morning thaw happens quickly this time of year most of my trip to the marsh was spent with the Hawk.
Soon after I left the marsh a totally different type of bird, a Downy Woodpecker, gave me another surprise. This was the fact that he was lounging in the sun. Have you ever seen one these sit still for even a minute? He out lasted me. Last I saw the bird was still sun bathing.
The day ended with another raptor. This time a Broad Winged Hawk. Talk about cooperation. I down loaded files from the camera, taken the memory card out….and failed to add a new one! I stood under the tree limb he was on and happily shot away. But it didn’t feel right. A quick look at the back screen and I knew exactly why. So now what? I went to my sling pack, retrieved a card, loaded it. Walked back and started all over. The Hawk sat and watched me to see what I was doing.
While this fiasco was happening small birds just hopped around in the trees with no sign of concern. A Blue Jay actually dove down on the Hawk.
In spite of myself I managed to get a few decent photos. Talk about a dumb mistake. Mad at myself yet relieved for the shots I called it a day. Quit while I was ahead.
All winter the ponds, parks, and rivers have one constant, Mallards.
In the rivers and woods they will quickly fly away. But in the parks and ponds just float and wait for food to appear.
No matter where, they are bright and colorful. Over the past few months I have collected numerous photos. I thought at this point they should be added here. It may be snowing and cold yet, but spring is around the corner and the Mallards will be too busy to pay attention to us.