Mallards in Flight
With the deer hunting season in full swing and hunter pressure Saturday second only to opening day on Monday, I decided to check out a couple of spots for waterfowl. My first stop was at a local wetland but it was ice covered. Moving on to a local lake I spotted a couple of flocks in deeper water well out from shore.
While checking the lake from I encountered a fellow photographer visiting from Germany. He was concerned that he was to meet a couple here for a photo outing and had not been able to find them. I realized that I had probably just seen them at another lake access point so I directed him there noting that I was going to return later with the boat.
Returning with the boat a couple of hours later, the little photo group was at the boat dock. As I prepared to launch we chatted and I was pleased to learn that the locals were familiar with Country Captures and had visited both here and Elk County because of the images they had found here. After launching the boat I noticed that our German visitor was still at his car so I invited him to a photo cruise on the lake. With a big smile he responded "I would love to".
For the next couple of hours we cruised the lake; however the waterfowl would have none of it anytime I attempted to close the distance. With the autumn waterfowl hunting season ongoing, and at least one group of hunters concealed along the shore behind a decoy spread, the ducks were not about to allow any boat to approach within shotgun range.
In spring I am accustomed to the scaup flushing at about 100 yards, with other species normally allow closer approaches. Ruddy ducks are usually the most trusting, many times not flushing until I am within 15-20 yards, however now all of the ducks were flushing 200 yards or more out.
During our cruise I had to settle for passing shots at extreme range however having a good chatting companion more than made up for the duck disappointment.
Mallard male Flushing
After dropping my new found friend off at his car I returned to the lake and did manage to locate a mallard pair feeding in the shallows. Approaching them I stayed focused waiting for the flush shot. While the range was still farther than what I would have liked, by using the 600mm lens and cropping some, I did manage an acceptable image as the male took flight.
Mallard female Flushing
A moment later the female followed the male again giving me a decent take-off shot
With the outlook for duck photography bleak because of the wary birds I began to focus on fishing. Even though the water temp read 34 degrees, after some searching, I managed to find some active bluegills. As the sun dropped near the horizon I headed back to the launch with a few images in the camera and a nice catch of gills in the livewell. Not bad for an outing on the first day of December!