Posts Tagged: bird photography

Mute Swan

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Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite birding spots.  I was visiting this Delaware wildlife refuge this spring and saw this Mute Swan in the sunset light.  I photographed the Swan as it started flapping it’s wings and then started running along the water surface and took off in flight. Mute Swans are beautiful and graceful and very exotic looking. They are also HUGE with a wing span up to 94 inches and weighing up to 30 pounds.

Mute Swans take off from the water by running really fast and flapping their wings until they build up enough speed to take off. They can fly up to 50 miles per hour! I had no idea until I read about Mute Swans that they are not native to the United States. They were all imported from Europe in the 19th century to “adorn” parks and large estates.  The Mute Swan has flourished in the wild and are seen as “invasive” in some areas because they are very aggressive and also because they eat as much as 8 pounds of aquatic vegetation per day.  Some references state that they can displace native bird species and can also be  a danger to humans because of their fierce defense of their nests.

It is hard to believe that this beautiful, graceful Swan can be a hazard. I’ll be sure to always observe from a safe distance!

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.

Conowingo Eagles

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Adult Bald Eaglewith fish in talons, liftininf off from water, looking down at fish (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)Adult Bald Eagle lifting off from water with fish (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)Adult Bald Eagle with feet forward, about to catch a fish in water. Fish is visible in water (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)Adult Bald Eagle dropping a fish mid air into the water (SandraCalderbank, sandra calderbank)

Watching Bald Eagles is such a wonderful treat! Unless you live on the coast of Alaska, Bald Eagles are quite uncommon (at least in the mountains of North Carolina they are quite rare).  Last year a friendly fellow photographer shared the secret of  the Conowingo Eagles.  I want to thank you Bruce DeBonnis The Intrepid Amateur for sharing this wonderful place to watch and photograph Bald Eagles!  Conowingo is on the Susquehanna River and in November and December the Eagles are very active. It was my first time using my new Canon 5Dsr for flight shots and it greatly exceeded my expectations. I would love to hear what other bird photographers think of the 5Dsr.  I am very happy with the performance of this 50 MP camera.

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.