Posts tagged ‘waterfowl’

Yellowstone May 2014—Harlequin Ducks, Cinnamon Teal & White-faced Ibis of the Hayden Valley

Living in northern Minnesota, there are few ducks we don’t regularly encounter. But this May trip to Yellowstone National Park was special in that there I had a chance to photograph three species that I’ve never photographed before…Harlequin Duck, Cinnamon Teal and Barrow’s Goldeneye. All gorgeous western waterfowl that are rarely seen in the Midwest.

Harlequin Ducks LeHardy Rapids Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7242Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/60 (Why? I must have been shooting video and switched to stills forgetting to up the shutter speed), tripod]

Harlequin Ducks LeHardy Rapids Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7346Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. I used a very slow shutter speed to make the water silky smooth but still wanted the ducks sharp. A different look. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f18 at 1/5, ISO 100, tripod]

Harlequin Ducks LeHardy Rapids Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7356Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. They sleep/doze in the middle of the rapids, all the while being splashed in the face with water! [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/60, tripod]

Harlequin Ducks LeHardy Rapids Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7368Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. I chose a slower shutter speed to highlight the color in the water. It took many frames but most of the Harlequins are fairly sharp. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f14 at 1/8, tripod]

Harlequin Ducks LeHardy Rapids Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7295Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. Harlequins are like “Dippers of the Duck World”…they dive and gather food underwater in fast moving rivers and rapids. Fun to watch them moving UPSTREAM in fast water. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/250, flash with Better Beamer, handheld]

Barrow's Goldeneye flight male Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8040Barrow’s Goldeneye in flight on the Yellowstone River. Not my best duck-in-flight shot…it’s turned away from me a bit…but my best Barrow’s Goldeneye flight shot! We have Common Goldeneyes in Minnesota. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/2000 (to freeze the wings in flight), handheld]

American Widgeon male Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8047American Wigeon at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/2000 (to freeze the wings in flight), handheld]

Cinnamon Teal male Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8079Cinnamon Teal male in the Hayden Valley. This was my closest and best sighting of a Cinnamon Teal ever! Gorgeous! I crawled over the snow to get close enough for a shot. Love the red eyes too. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/1600 (just in case he flew), handheld]

White-faced Ibis Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7128I was quite surprised to come across these two White-faced Ibis in an open stream in the snow-covered Hayden Valley. I did not know they migrated through the park. Strange to see a tropical looking bird in this mountain valley! They are gorgeous with iridescent green and burgundy plumage. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/1000, handheld]

White-faced Ibis Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7087 [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, f5.6 at 1/1600, handheld]

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Swans in the Mist

Not as exotic as “Gorillas in the Mist,” this scene revealed itself much closer to home when rounding a corner on our “Drive-to-Daycare Wildlife Loop #3.” Birk and Bjorn were fairly non-plussed. Birk went back to playing Angry Birds on my iPhone after a verbal pat on his dad’s back, “Oh swans, nice spot daddy” (“spot” is a birder term for finding a good bird). But I loved the moody scene. And overcast days are when you want to photograph pure white swans as the contrast between the white birds and surroundings is reduced and there is much less chance of blowing out the whites.

Unlike 20 years ago, when a birder would assume that any spring or fall swans seen in northern Minnesota would be Tundra Swans (“Whistling Swans” back then), today we assume that they are Trumpeter Swans (if the flock is under a dozen birds or so). Back from the brink of extinction in the Lower 48, the Trumpeters owe their “thrival” (thriving survival…yes, I made the term up) to Carrol Henderson and the Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife division. Back in the early 1980s, Carrol traveled to Alaska where the species was hanging on, and brought back a dozen or so eggs. They were hatched and raised in the Hennepin County (Minneapolis) Parks. Finally in 1987 several two-year olds were released into the wild. Today the Trumpeters are thriving, with 300 nesting pairs in Minnesota and several thousand wintering on the Mississippi River near Monticello. They are also nesting in Wisconsin and now even reclaiming historical territory in Ontario and Manitoba.

It’s good to have you back, my trumpeting friends!

Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6, 1/250 second at f5.6, ISO 160, lens braced on car door frame.