Carolina Wild Photo (the blog)

Choptank River, Cambridge, MD

by on Jan.19, 2015, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

With the holidays over I waited for a break in the dreary, overcast, rainy weather to get in some photography. I finally got a good weather forecast, so I made a trip north to a favorite spot of mine on the Choptank River in Cambridge, Maryland. The usual cast of characters were there – Canvasbacks, Wigeons, Mallards, Scaup, and the ubiquitous Canada Geese. Didn’t find any Scoters this time, and not a Redhead in sight, but the weather was suitable.

Canvasback hen on final approach

The first day was in the upper 40’s, though a stiff breeze made it quite cold. The second day didn’t get over 35, but with virtually no wind, it felt much warmer than the first day. There were fewer “flyers” this time compared to my last trip chronicled in my “Flight School” posting, but I still managed a couple of decent “BIF” (bird in flight) shots.

Above is a Canvasback hen coming in for splash-down, and below is a Mallard hen banking into the light for me.

Mallard hen banking

The American Wigeon, with the brilliant emerald green swash on the male’s head, is one of the prettiest ducks you can find, and certainly one I enjoy photographing. Some males show a rich green, while some look golden. This is due to the iridescence in there feathers, like hummingbirds feathers. Here are a couple of shots comparing the male’s coloration.

Male American Wigeon

Male American Wigeon

The female American Wigeon is much plainer, but is still a very pretty brown duck.

Female American Wigeon

Occasionally I come across birds with color mutations, as I did on this trip. Among the dozens of Canvasback ducks I could reach to photograph was one male with white or cream feathers on its face. Normally the head is a solid deep red-maroon color. The light feathers on this one made it stand out. A normal male and the color mutation are both shown below.

normal male Canvasback

color mutation on male Canvasback

There was also one poor Canvasback male with a severely malformed bill, shown below. It didn’t seem to affect him much, as he was as large and seemed as healthy as the rest of his kind.

Canvasback drake with a bill deformity

It’s often possible to get interesting photos of ducks as they go through their contortions while bathing and preening. The last thing they usually do as part of their ritual is to stand up as tall as they can and flap their wings. With a camera that can take from 6 to 10 or more frames per second, it’s possible to capture the full range of their wing flapping and then choose an image with the most interesting or pleasing pose from the set. Here are a Canvasback drake, and Canvasback hen, and an American Wigeon drake showing off their wings for the camera.

male Canvasback

female Canvasback

male American Wigeon

Well, it’s time to go check the weather forecast for my next “expedition”, most likely to Lake Mattamuskeet, Pea Island NWR, and/or down towards Beaufort, NC. Hopefully I’ll bring back something new for my next posting.

:, , ,

Comments are closed.