Had planned on working all weekend as the weatherman had called for clouds and cold and general bad weather for the weekend. However, Saturday morning started out with blue skies with scattered light, white clouds-so I decided to go look for ducks. I first stopped at a small lake about 5 miles from our house and was watching buffleheads, hooded mergansers and common mergansers when a large soaring bird caught my eye. Sure enough it was a mature Bald Eagle. It landed in a tree at upper end of the lake. the residents see them here often and I have seen them in that area but have not located their nest yet. I have also seen a pair of adults near Tunhannock flying up and down the river and it seemed that they were there quite often and that it did not seem logical that they would be using the three nests I knew about along the Susquehanna.
Bufflehead male and female
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1600 ISO500
Common Merganser Male
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1250 ISO500
Mature Bald Eagle
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1600 ISO500
I then decided to drive to a remote pond on an old farm that is in a wooded area to check for ducks. Upon arriving I saw two adult bald eagles in the air carrying nesting materials (odd for this time of year) and they were headed back to the Susquehanna River. I met the landowners and we made friends and they consented to me entering the property to photograph wildlife. We had "known" each other for years but had never really formally met. It turns out we have have common interests in wildlife and birds. While the lady and I were talking an immature Bald Eagle flew over. I found the pond had Canada Geese, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ring Neck Ducks and mallards on it along with a Great Blue Heron. The owners were there with a surveyor and the ducks were at the far edge of the pond and approaching them from the other side put the sun in my face. I decided to look for the Eagle nest that I knew must exist along the Susquehanna. I stopped along a road that overlooks part of the river and began scanning the tree line on each side as well as trees on the islands. I had about given up when a White spot about one half way up a sycamore tree caught my eye. Observation with the spotting scope revealed it was a nest and had an adult eagle settled into it. I found a place to park and walked the bank above the river to find a place I could see through the trees. I finally found a spot about 175 yards from the nest and I set up with the 600mm lens with a 1.4 TC mounted. Brush between me and the Eagle head interfered with focusing automatically so i used live view at 10X magnification and manually focused and used the remote release.
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600mm f4 with 1.4TC; f9 1/1000 ISO 640 manual focus
Had to run some errands in town and then just before dark I decided to check on the ducks at the remote pond. On the way there I saw a pair of hoodies on the farmer's pond nearer the house and they were in good light.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/640 ISO500
On the way home i saw two large flocks of Turkeys and the one flock had a mature gobbler strutting and fanning.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f10 1/800 ISO1000
This morning I went to the remote pond prepared to get lots of duck shots. I had my cam clothing, my Ghillie suit, my blind and my stool. When I arrived the ducks were close to the entry road and they quickly scooted to the far side of the pond. I decided to hike back to where I had planned to set up and I did so carefully. When I got to the small cove I found it loaded with common and hooded mergansers. I was careful and setup and was waiting to get some good shots when all of a sudden two ducks that had been in the brush along the edge not 5 yards from me decided I was a threat and they exploded out of there and all of the ducks went to far side of pond (which really could be called a lake). I went to the other side and set up again and waited and the Ring Neck ducks would only come so close to the blind-but i enjoyed every minute of it.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC @f7.1 1/1250 ISO500
Went home to meet Joan and we went north to another friend's place that is remote in woods and there are some good ponds there. It is only 18 miles north of us and we found most of the ponds still frozen, ice on the back roads and snow!!! We found one beaver pond only half frozen over and there were 4 female and 4 male wood ducks there. We watched them for over an hour. Then some turkeys came and spooked them. I already have quote a few wood duck pictures-but none that I ever considered "killers". Well, today I took a number of shots that are better than any I have ever taken of wood ducks.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f10 1/400 ISO500
Canon 7D; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f10 1/320 ISO500 EC+.67
Canon 7D; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f9 1/100 ISO500
Until next Time