The Eclipse

Mid to late summer as their ducklings become juveniles Mallard Ducks acquire what is known as eclipse plumage. As a result of the yearly molt males lose their distinctive shiney green heads and look suprisingly like females. Looking closely you can tell the difference – male beaks are of a greenish hue while the females are yellow and black.

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Mallard Duck

During the few weeks of the molt the ducks are incapable of flight. This fact is what inabled me to take this photo; otherwise the birds would have flown upon noticing my arrival.

When courtship begins in the fall the males will have their distinctive look back and the cycle of life continues.

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Mallard Duck
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Colorful Birds And An Exciting Find

A colorful and beautiful bird you’re just as apt to see at at a bird feeder as in the wild, is the Blue Jay. This is a photo I am particularily fond of which was taken in the fields of the Great Swamp Conservancy.

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Blue Jay

The next photo is of a colorful bird you most likely will not find at your feeder. However within the Conservancy this year there seemed to be quite a few, Blue-winged Warblers.

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Blue-winged Warbler

This last bird photo was taken this morning near the Beaver dam, a ten to fifteen week old male Ring-necked Pheasant.  It was an exciting find for me as I know last year the GSC released numerous pheasants into the wild which were raised here. So it would seem their efforts have paid off! This male will have a shiny green head in another four to five weeks. I’d like my shot at photographing him again at that time.

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Ring-necked Pheasant

Nature is always evolving and so is life within the confines of the GSC. Why not come out to the trails and see what is new today and at the same time you may even be adding a little color to your life.

Siblings

Below is a set of four siblings produced and raised this year within the heronry at the GSC.

(click on images to enlarge)

Great Blue Heron

Birds of this size and age (about ready to leave the nest) keep the parents very busy in satisfying their appetites.

Great Blue Heron

This parent lands first at a nearby tree for what looks like a few moments of stress relief.

Great Blue Heron

And they deserve a moment for themselves as they produced four beautiful offspring.

Great Blue Heron


 I wish to thank all the staff and supporters of The Great Swamp Conservancy for making this possible and for promoting nature and conservation.

Avian Sunshine (A.K.A. The Yellow Warbler)

What the following post lacks in verbiage I have tried to compensate for with image quality.

Thanks to the GSC for the numerous acres of scrubland it maintains. An environment in which many birds prefer, if not require to thrive. Their efforts are not in vain; as an example I present numerous photos of the Yellow Warbler taken this spring.

click on photos to enlarge

Yellow Warbler

 The combination of sunshine and a Yellow Warbler makes for an exciting photographic opportunity, and can be a testament to the warmth of the season.

Yellow Warbler

A season of growth and colour which seems to contrast the previous season of cold and stagnation. A season of hope.

Yellow Warbler

The beauty in these springtime scenes bestows an uplifting of spirit.

Yellow Warbler

Until we meet again.

 

On The Way Home

Upon leaving the conservancy Sunday I stopped a few miles away, along Black Creek at Verona Beach State Park. The intent was to take some photos of ducks with their chicks. There were none on this day, however. What I did come away with was not quite so cute.

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Turkey Vulture

Dining on something that smelled horrendous, a startled group of Turkey Vultures took short flight to the nearby trees upon my presence.

Enjoying nature comes from not getting what you expect but rather from observing what you’re given.

In 1938, the Union Oil Company discovered that by injecting a strong-smelling organic chemical called mercaptan into gas lines, they could readily find leaks by monitoring vulture activity above the pipelines. Some mercaptans smell like rotting cabbage or eggs. They and related chemicals are released as carcasses decompose.

The above paragraph was taken from an article found at Cornell University’s All About Birds web site. You can click here to read the complete article.

Rain Shortened

Last Sunday’s birding walk was cut very short due to rain (contrary to what the weather service I use had stated). Before the rains drove me away (for the sake of my rather pricey camera and lens) I managed a couple of images.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Canada Goose

Waiting at the edge of the swamp for some ducks to travel past I noticed this Canada Goose nesting atop a beaver lodge.

Viewing the scene above a song bird could be heard close behind me. It turned out to be the first warbler sighting of the year, a Myrtle Warbler.

Myrtle Warbler

The rains arrived shortly after this photo was taken forcing me out of the trails prematurely. However I left optimistic for what this Myrtle Warbler represents to me; the start of spring/summer birding season.

Lastly here is a different version of a photo from the last post, because I rather like it.

European Starling

 

2 a.m.

The Allman Brothers Play through headphones as I edit bird photos at 2 a.m.. I am anticipating good fortune for todays photo shoot as they call for morning sun [fingers crossed]. Until then I will drink hot coffee and post a few shots taken within the east side trail system of the GSC this spring.

(click photos to enlarge)

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Canada Goose
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Eastern Bluebird
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Ring-necked Duck
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Northern Flicker
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European Starling

Thats about it for this post. Soon I will be off attempting to capture more usable images. Chances should be very good  as spring migration is in full swing. More and more birds will be arriving in the coming days and weeks filling the trails with song, color and activity.

On the way out I have something to add:

These boys reside across the street from where I often park. Not early risers, for you will only hear them bleating around dawn. Later on however they will be in the field checking me out as I break down my tripod and put gear away.

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Three Goats

 

I look forward to seeing them later today, with a camera full of images. Keeping my fingers crossed.