Thursday, April 28, 2011

Divers, Large and Small

Female Red-breasted Mergansers Flushing

Red-breasted Mergansers are large diving ducks that winter along the Atlantic and Gulf coast passing through our area on their way to the northern nesting grounds.  I typically observe the males during a short time period from when the water first becomes open through perhaps the first week of April while the females typically are here until the late April/early May time frame.  

 I read one reference that noted that they are possibly the fastest bird reaching speeds of 100 mph in flight.  I have never timed them but as you can see here they can get moving very quickly.

Female Buffleheads in flight

The tiny Buffleheads are the smallest of our diving ducks and are typically one of the wariest ducks I encounter while boating for ducks.  Only once have I been able to approach buffleheads to within good camera range and that time the high-noon light was so harsh that I was disappointed with the results.  This flock flushed while I was still well out of camera range but then swung around passing by a little closer.

A lone male catches up with the Girls

I'm still waiting an watching for the opportunity to capture a great Bufflehead portrait but I'm certainly not holding my breath.  Like the RB Merganser the last of the Buffleheads will soon be leaving my area as they continue on to their nesting grounds.

Flight shots oft times are easier to capture than those of a sitting bird.  Panning and focusing does present  problems but acceptable images can be made at much greater distances for when the bird spreads its wings it becomes a much larger subject.

My waterfowl migration season is showing signs of coming to a close.  The Ring-necks Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Common Mergansers and others have already moved on.  Soon I will be turning my attention to the Wood Duck, Mallard, and Hooded Merganser ducklings which should begin hatching within the next two to three weeks.


Montanagirl said...

Wonderful flight shots, and really like the lighting in these.

Chris said...

I would love to catch a bufflehead. I ran after one on Wednesday afternoon but we were unfortunate.... Nice flight shot Coy and I hope the ring-necked is coming my way ;-) I've not seen my usual one yet, but it is a bit early ;-)

Blair Cessna said...

Great work Coy. I always enjoy your blogs.

Lois Evensen said...

What great action shots!

Meggie said...

Thanks again, Coy, for another great lesson...this time on PA ducks.