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Posts Tagged ‘shoveler’

The light was dim in the early morning hours this past Wednesday at Huntley Meadows Park, but I could detect some movement in the vegetation adjacent to the boardwalk that runs through the marshland. I watched and waited and eventually a male Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) swam slowly into view and I managed to capture some images of it. I love the reflections of both the duck and the vegetation in this shot.

After the fact, I discovered that I probably should have changed the setting of my camera to raise the shutter speed. Many of my shots were blurry, but somehow this one came out reasonably sharp, despite the fact that it was taken with a shutter speed of only 1/15 of a second with my lens zoomed out all of the way to 600mm. I am pretty sure that it helped that I was using a monopod.

This incident reminded me of the special challenges and rewards that come with shooting at dawn or dusk. There is often a lot of activity, but there is a constant struggle to capture that activity in the limited light that is available. When things come together, though, it is almost magical and is definitely worth the effort.

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some birds are so skittish that they fly away the very second that they detect my presence. Other birds are so tolerant or have gotten so used to humans that they will come right up to me or allow me to get pretty close to them. Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata) are somewhere in the middle—generally they will turn their backs to me and swim away, but don’t fly away.

On a recent trip to my favorite marshland park, Huntley Meadows Park, I spotted a small group of Northern Shovelers. They were in constant motion as they foraged in the vegetation in the far reaches of one of the small ponds. It was a bit frustrating trying to get shots of them, because they spent most of the time swimming with their heads partially submerged.

I waited patiently and finally one of the handsome males briefly stopped swimming and gave me a half-smile and I was able to capture this image.

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The weathermen thought the snowstorm that is now dumping a lot of snow on the Northeast would skirt around us, but they were wrong—I ended up shoveling a couple of inches of the white stuff yesterday evening and this morning. So, I decided to post this photo of a male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) that I took on New Year’s Day, in honor of all of the shovelers in the north that will be busy today.

I remember well the first time I saw a Northern Shoveler last winter. At first I thought it was a Mallard, but then I got a look at the elongated bill, which still seems cartoonish to me. In this image, I really like the way that you can see the shape of the duck’s bill in the reflection in the water.

Our storm started out with rain and then turned to snow and everything is now frozen solid. With strong gusts of wind and a current temperature of 18 degrees (about minus 8 C), I may stick close to home today, but hope to get some shots of the snow.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was focusing on some ducks yesterday on a misty, gray morning, one of them suddenly decided to take to the air and I managed to capture him just as he was starting to come out of the water.

The ducks were a little closer to the shore of a little pond at my local marshland park than is usually the case and I was squinting through the viewfinder trying to identify their types. The bright white neck of one of them made me pretty sure that it was a Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), but I wasn’t quite so sure about the pair of ducks that sort of looked like mallards, but turned out to be Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata).

I was trying to be as quiet as I could as I took some photos, when the male Northern Shoveler somehow detected me and took off. I managed to snap a photo at a really interesting moment as the male is just starting to flap his wings. The female and the pintail aren’t  paying much attention to the male’s actions and eventually just swam away.

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I tried to follow the male Northern Shoveler in flight as he headed off into the distance. Most of my shots were pretty blurry, but I got a couple that I really like. The first one is just after take off and I like the splash and the fact that his reflection is still visible. In the second one,the background is a soft blur, providing a nice backdrop for the vivid colors of the shoveler. He is in a photogenic position as he flies away and I like the fact that a portion of his head and one of his yellow eyes are still visible.

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flight_blogI’ll probably post some separate photos of the Northern Shoveler and the Northern Pintail a bit later, but wanted to share my good fortune in capturing this moment.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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