Carolina Wild Photo (the blog)

The Birds Up North – Part 3 – Cambridge, MD

by on Mar.02, 2016, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

I’ve posted other articles on this blog about Cambridge, Maryland, so this is nothing new. But every time I visit my spot on the Choptank River I come away with a few more worthwhile images of ducks. They’re fun to watch, and lovely to look at. This year the birds have been a bit scarce wherever I’ve gone for photos, and Cambridge was no exception. Must be the warmish winter we had, which didn’t push as many ducks southward as usual. But that’s the nature of nature – it can be pretty unpredictable.
American Wigeon drake I can count on finding American Wigeons at this spot. The drakes’ showy green head patches make them easy to identify. Sometimes they’re an olive green… usually with a golden iridescence like the drake on the left. Sometimes they’re a rich, brilliant emerald green, like the drake in the photo below of a pair of wigeons. Note the white band over top of the head and extending down the forehead to the bill. This white marking has given the American Wigeon the nickname “Baldpate”.

American Wigeon pairAmerican Wigeon pair

I didn’t have much luck with flight shots on this visit, as there were fewer ducks than usual. At least I managed this nice photo below of a wigeon pair coming in for a landing. I consciously try to get more flight shots now than I used to, but it does take a lot of practice, and much trial and error. For the best shots both the light direction and wind direction have to be just right. Luckily this day that was the case. The only issue was that there were very few ducks taking advantage of it. Oh well, maybe next trip.

American Wigeon pair landingAmerican Wigeon drake and hen landing

Canvasback drake Among the other ducks at Cambridge were Canvasbacks and Scaup, both of which I enjoy. Each has its own type of beauty. The Canvasback drake (left photo) has a rugged sort of good looks with its sloped forehead extending straight out to its slightly over-sized bill. And their brilliant red eyes really catch your attention.

Canvasback hen To be honest, the female Canvasback, with her peanut butter head color is, to me anyway, the least pretty of all female ducks I’m familiar with. I don’t know why, but I just find them rather dull, unlike most other female duck species. I guess it’s the lack of richness in the coloration. I find even the female mallard a more interesting looking duck.

Scaup hen On the other hand, I find the female Scaup is rather lovely. Her rich brown feathers (not as obvious in this photo with her white tummy turned up), accented by the white patch in front of her eyes, gives her a classy appeal.  This one is relaxing and giving herself a good scratch. Both the male and female Scaup have brilliant “school bus yellow” eyes that help identify this species at a distance.Scaup drake The drake Scaup, at right, looks almost like he’s dressed in his dark suit for an evening out. He’s not as flashy as the Wood Duck, but certainly holds his own for classy looks.

That’s it for “The Birds Up North” for now. With Spring approaching it looks like I’ll be hanging out closer to home, and likely not heading so far north again until next winter. It’ll soon be time to head to the NC coast for wild horses.

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