Thursday, January 23, 2014

This Week in Duck! - 23 Jan 2014

I've been running down to check out waterfowl on the Detroit River here in Wyandotte everyday this week.  The highlight (so far) has been this gorgeous male White-winged Scoter that appeared next to shore at John Dingell Park at the foot of Southfield and West Jefferson Roads.  As I approached the railing at the south end of the park, hoping to find a Common Goldeneye, I was surprised when this fella flushed.  I managed a few pics as it swam away to the south and into the late afternoon sun (yesterday).  I've been unable to relocate it since.

Last week's warmup managed to clear the river in this area of any ice.  This past weekend's cold spell has brought a new crop of ice flows from Lake St Clair and the upper Detroit River.  Most of the river has been covered in ice, but the west side of the river near Mud Island has remained relatively open.  This has drawn local Canvasback, Redhead, Mute Swans, Gadwall, Common Goldeneye and Common Mergansers back to congregate and forage.  Many of the ducks have been farther out in open water, and pickings have been relatively slim, but I've managed a few images worthy of post-processing.  These Mallard and Gadwall were fairly close to shore yesterday at noon from boat dock at the foot of St. John's Street in Wyandotte.  Flyby Common Mergansers tested my autofocus capabilities.

A quick run down to John Dingell Park at noon yesterday yielded little in the way of ducks, but a large flock of roosting Canada Geese yielded a Greylag Goose that I hoped would be a White-fronted Goose. The bill on the bird is a mix of orange, pink and black, and a small white patch was visible at the base of the bill.  However, the bird's belly lacked the black feathering/coloration of a Greater White-fronted Goose. Still, a very pretty bird!

Subzero windchills didn't keep me long at any of the locations, either at noon or after work. Lots of ducks were congregating around the base of Mud Island, but few were close enough for photographing.  A Bald Eagle sat watch from its perch directly across from the shelter at Dingell Park.

The ducks were a bit more cooperative today.  At noon I struck out on pretty much everything, except for this Common Merganser taking off from near shore.  A Canada Goose was struggling with thin ice along the edge of an ice shelf, and lighting was good, so I went for it.  Incidentally, I tried shooting Manual w/ the D7100 using Auto ISO (up to 1600 w/ minimum shutter speed of 1/400s).

After work I returned to the foot of St. John's Street.  At the boat launch a flock of Redhead, Gadwall, Bufflehead and Mute Swans were foraging next to the boat launch.  I managed to pull the car over enough to the right so that I could photograph them through the passenger-side window from just 30' feet away.  I was even able to open the door wide open and use it as a mini-blind while snapping away at the diving/squabbling ducks.  The Redhead did all the diving, while the Gadwall spent all of their time trying to steal whatever was retrieved from the bottom.

From there I headed back down to the foot of Southfield Rd. and Dingell Park, where I found a semi-cooperative Common Goldeneye near shore.  Initially my approach scared it out toward the middle of the open water, but after a while it started drifting back toward shore.  I just had to stay still, and wait for it to dive.  I then ran as fast as I could to where it might come up and wait for it.  It didn't seem to mind my presence this time.

Another fly-by Common Merganser tested my tracking capabilities. Shooting Manual helped save this shot as it passed in front of the dark island in the background.

Since I had to turn around to head back south toward home I pulled into the lot next to the shelter and walked out to the rail. Several Mallard and this single Canvasback were quietly resting on the ice.  Unfortunately my presence stirred them and they made haste toward open water.  Sorry little guys for bothering your nap.


Mark Wloch said...

Nice shots, especially the Scoter. Couldn't find it yesterday morning but the lighting was all wrong then.

Pam H said...

Hi, I very much enjoy your blog and visit a few times a week. Your photo's are fabulous. I visit some of the same sites you do being from downriver. I had 20 eagles on the north end of Mud Island on Sunday after church. My pics are great for my scrapbook, but don't make them public very often. I'm enjoying the winter ducks, but looking forward to Magee in the spring!

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