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Finding a cure for the blues

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BLACK-NECKED STILT

Friday was one of those grey, cold days here in the west and I’ll admit my mood pretty much matched the weather. Thursday’s 87-degree weather turned to Friday’s high temperatures in the mid 40s, and since I hadn’t been out to photograph for several weeks, the camera called. I ran into a real cast of characters on the Sandhill marshes and nearby, the first was a Black-necked Stilt, then an American Avocet that seemed to tolerate the photographer somewhat better. Nearby a group of White-faced Ibis. Even with a bird book in hand I’ll admit they might be Glossy Ibis, the two species are very close in plumage colors, especially young birds.

The real character of the day was perched in a small tree on the south edge of the Crescent Lake National Waterfowl Refuge. At first he reminded me of Karash’s image of an uncooperative Winston Churchill, sitting with his back to the camera. But after a few minutes as I tried to find an angle that would reveal its face, the porcupine climbed slightly higher and faced the camera.

Driving to the refuge I’d noticed breeding pairs of Canada geese in the meadows and marshes but none seemed be with goslings and I mistakenly thought perhaps that the geese may not be as successful nesting without artificial nesting platforms. Wrong again, the problem was the goslings were hidden in the green growth provided by some timely spring percipitation. I stopped to observe a particularly close pair of adult geese when the movement of the goslings caught my eye. There were seven or eight, this breeding pair was very successful.

PORCUPINE

AMERICAN AVOCET

WHITE-FACED IBIS

GOSLINGS IN THE MEADOW

These three let me approach close enough for a group portrait while the breeding pair stood off to the side and guarded their other young.

Blue-winged Teal seemed to be on every small bit of water protected from the wind and I tried several times unsuccessfully to capture the beautifully-colored drakes in flight. Eye-hand coordination as well as a very difficult autofocusing task at very close range said “you’ll have to try again”. But here is one of the better failures, just a glimpse of the possibilities of working more with waterfowl like the teal.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL DRAKE

Well, a Friday that started out fairly blah turned into a pretty nice day, all in all. If you catch the blues now and then, grab your camera and head for the nearest photographic opportunity, I admit it certainly works for me.

Bob