Backyard photography

Golden Afternoon Light at my Backyard Pond

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Female Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Mergansers continue to hang out at my backyard pond, and I’ve visited them several times over the past month.  They are very skittish birds.  I lie down near the pond’s edge and use my groundpod to balance the Beast.  The birds usually start out on the opposite side of the pond, but after I stay there quiet for a while, the birds relax a bit and start to swim closer.  They are such fun to watch as they swim and dive.  The golden afternoon light at the pond was beautiful as it shone on the birds. The birds were pretty sleepy this afternoon.  They swam back and forth with their eyes closed.  It can be hard to get good group shots, so I was happy when they grouped themselves nicely and all faced me. There was quite a bit of preening going on!  It’s hard to get good preening shots, with the bird’s head parallel to the image plane.  I kept hoping that the birds would start bathing, which is almost always followed by a good wing flap.  But they didn’t want to cooperate with me. The Hoodies weren’t the only birds at the pond that afternoon.  This […]

Beyond the Backyard

Finally! Nice Weather for a Walk at Circle B

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American White Pelican

As you will read in upcoming blog posts, the weather wasn’t so great over my Christmas vacation.  So when the forecast called for sun today, I headed for a nice walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I wasn’t the only one, either!  There were tons of people there.  I took the Alligator Alley trail to look for pelicans and the bobcat kittens, but knew I’d likely never see the bobcat family with so many people around.  My plan was to try for sunrise with the pelicans, but the security guy didn’t show up to open the gate until just before sunrise.  So this was my sunrise shot instead.  Not bad! When I got to the dock, there weren’t that many American White Pelicans close by.  But later, as I headed down the trail, I passed a huge group of them fairly close to the lakeshore.  They were diving and splashing and flying, and there were so many of them that the flock sounded like a waterfall.  It was amazing.  Everybody who passed by commented on the pelicans.  I couldn’t get good pictures there because of all the trees.  My best pelican shot of the morning was a fly-by shot […]

Backyard photography

9 Seconds, 9 Hoodies!

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Pied-Billed Grebe

Yesterday afternoon I went down to our local retention pond where a flock of Hooded Mergansers can often be found diving.  I got lots of funny looks as I walked down our residential street with my big camera and lens, carrying my groundpod.  (The only bad thing about the groundpod is that it is incredibly awkward to carry long distances!)   I reached the pond, where I counted at least nine Hoodies, swimming up and down the pond.  I carefully approached, laid down with my groundpod, and had barely snapped two pictures when the noisy schoolbus came screeching down the road.  All the Hoodies spooked and flew off.  Of course I wasn’t ready to focus quickly for flight shots, and I barely managed one image that was almost in focus.  Silly traffic!  Note to self: don’t go to the pond at high traffic times again. I stayed for about half an hour, hoping that the Hooded Mergansers would come back.  They didn’t.  This Pied-billed Grebe was the only bird left on the pond.  He spent the time diving for his dinner.  It was fun to watch him coming up and down.  The grebes are good divers and will often go […]

Backyard photography

Look Who’s Back! Hooded Mergansers!

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Hooded Merganser Wing Flap

We drove by our local retention pond over Thanksgiving break and found that our flock of Hooded Mergansers is back!  These diving ducks are such fun to watch and photograph.  They are pretty skittish, though, so you have to move carefully or the whole flock will fly off.  A cold front was moving through, and the winds were freezing cold, but I ran home, grabbed my camera, and returned to spend an hour lying by the pond.  The hoodies spent most of the time feeding, moving back and forth between the left and right sides of the small pond.  Everybody seemed to be taking a bath when I got there, so I was hoping for wing flaps, but I only saw two or three the whole time I was there!  Lucky for me, I managed to get a couple of them into my camera… The Hooded Mergansers are challenging to photograph.  For one thing, they dive so often, they can be hard to locate.  At one point I thought the entire flock had flown off, when I realized they were all underwater!  Once they come up, you have to expose them properly – it’s hard to get enough detail in […]

Backyard photography

Dyeyo Wants Hoodies in His Backyard!

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After Dyeyo and I went to Merritt Island last week, we stopped by my neighborhood pond where the Hooded Mergansers have been hanging out. We got there around 3 in the afternoon, when the afternoon light was hitting the pond at a great angle. I love how the green trees in the background color the water, sometimes bright green, and sometimes a golden glow. The Hoodies are a pain to expose correctly. Their bright white spots are easy to overexpose, but if you stop the lens down too much, you lose detail in the blacks. Not to mention that the cars passing by on the street were causing all sorts of colors and shadows to reflect in the water. I tried for pleasing backgrounds with some blinkies in the white head, knowing that I could regain some detail in post-processing. I was pretty happy with the results. The Hoodies weren’t the only ones at the pond. A pair of Mallards flew in and posed nicely in the clear water. They obligingly swam fairly near to me, at a good sun angle. Or maybe they were swimming away from Rich (we sent him to the other side of the pond to […]

Backyard photography

Hoodie New Year!

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Dyeyo and I wrapped up a trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday with a walk down to our neighborhood pond, where a small flock of Hooded Mergansers have taken up residence in the past few weeks. Dyeyo enjoyed the opportunity to get so close to the birds. Rich did us the favor of walking around the pond to get the very skittish ducks to move in the direction of the cameras. I will have more pictures soon, but here’s a teaser… On the home front, we have three Painted Buntings who make regular visits to our feeder, as well as several American Goldfinches. I went from having few posts in December to being about eight posts behind…stay tuned!! :)

Backyard photography

Hoodies!

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Today I noticed a small flock of Hooded Mergansers in the pond by the back entrance to our subdivision. It was my first opportunity to see Hoodies up close this winter. I went home, got The Beast, and carried it up to the pond. The Hoodies promptly swam away to the other side, so I had Rich walk over to their side and send them back my way. The pond was surrounded by green trees, which reflected nicely in the water. A female Hoodie even did a little Christmas dance for me. :)