Posts Tagged: scalderphotgraphy

The Elusive Wood Duck

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A pair of Wood Ducks swimming in natural habitat side by side (SANDRA CALDERBANK, sandra calderbank)
Male Wood Duck swimming in river in woods (SANDRA CALDERBANK, sandra calderbank)
I have admired the colorful Wood Duck from pictures …..OTHER people’s pictures….for many years. I have frequented areas that were supposedly replete with Wood Ducks and have NEVER seen one.

Last spring I was driving around Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and out of the corner of my eye, way back in the dark marshy woods, I saw a pair of Wood Ducks. Of course when I stopped to try and photograph the pair of Wood Ducks, they immediately flew away. I trudged through the marshy swamp trying to find them without success. Over the next few days I went back to that same spot multiple times and waited and waited and waited and finally was rewarded with some images of Wood Ducks. They seem to frequent dark areas that are very difficult to photograph and are very shy.

The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly beautiful birds ever created and I feel fortunate to finally have seen and photographed these colorful waterfowl.

Purple Martins

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Male Purple Martin in flight with dragonfly in beak (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)Female Purple Martin hovering in flight against cloudy sky (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)

I have always thought Purple Martins (you know the birds that live in the hollowed out gourds) ate tons of mosquitos! Recently on a trip to Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge I spotted someone carefully cleaning the Purple Martin nests. After asking her multiple questions, I learned a lot about these beautiful birds. They DO eat mosquitoes but that is only about 1-2% of their diet. Purple Martins feed mostly on dragonflies! They feed on the fly, meaning they eat and catch food while flying.   Mosquitos  typically live close to the ground. The Purple Martins  don’t fly at night which is when mosquitos are active. I was certainly surprised to learn this fact.  They are extremely acrobatic, beautiful birds and I have come to appreciate them much more even though they don’t really eat mosquitos.

Least Bittern

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Least Bittern taking off in flight in rain at Viera Wetlands (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)

I was leaving The Viera Wetlands  one April afternoon because it had started to rain and I assumed there would be no more photography action that afternoon. Suddenly this Least Bittern appeared and took off right beside me! What a gift. These small Bitterns are hard to spot because they blend into their surroundings and even more difficult to photograph in flight because it is SO difficult to find them in the reeds. They live a very secretive life and I was blessed to have this one take off right in front of me at a time when I thought photography for that day was over due to rainy weather.

Belted Kingfisher

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Female Belted Kingfisher in flight over water with wings aloft (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)

These small birds with their large heads, long pointed beaks and rapid flight are incredibly challenging to photograph in flight. On a trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge last fall I watched several of these little speedy fliers zip around over the water. They are so quick I can understand why they are called Kingfishers as they swiftly catch fish and dart back to safety to eat their meal.