Monday, February 11, 2013

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days where everything just falls into place to produce a great day of birding and photography. As you know, winter storm Nemo (since when do we have to use names with snow storms?) hit us on Saturday, but we were virtually unaffected with less than 3" of snow.  Sunday turned out to be one of those stellar winter days with gorgeous blue skies and just a hint of thin cirrus clouds. It started out at 15 degrees but quickly warmed up to 30. I know that doesn't sound very warm, but it was delightful to be outdoors with warm sunshine and very little wind.

In addition to the fabulous weather, the DVOC had a photography trip planned to Barnegat Lighthouse so I decided to join them for the morning.  Roxy and I showed up a little late but quickly found the group which was being lead by Steve Kacir. Cindy and her husband Scott were the other participants.  We wandered down the beach and along the jetty for the better part of 3 hours watching and photographing winter ducks and shorebirds.  It was really great to be with the group. We all had the same appreciation for the day and the birds.

It was one of those days.  One of those days where I have so many photos that I can't show them all in one post.  One of those days where I have so many photos that I can't decide which ones to leave out.  One of those days where I thought to myself - it's about time I had one of these days. 

Harlequin ducks are just about the gaudiest ducks that you can find. I have always had trouble getting good photos in the past due to poor lighting/weather conditions or being too far away.  Not yesterday.  We had perfect weather for photography and the ducks were literally swimming and sunning themselves within 20 yards of us.  They are pretty comfortable with people walking close to them on the jetty.  Here are a few photos. The first photo shows a single male Harlequin in the water.

Harlequin Duck - Male
Here is a group of males swimming in unison. They would group together and then form a single line, then group together again.  I love this one where they are all facing away and converging.
Group of Male Harlequin Ducks
 In case you were wondering what all of this was about - of course it is all about getting a female.  Here she is in all of her drab-ness being courted by 5 males.  She appears to be unimpressed by any of their flaunting and chasing.

Male Harlequins courting Female
 Although she appeared not to care about what was going on, she was seen a few minutes later hanging out on the rock with one of her beaus. . .

Male and Female Harlequin Ducks
 Here is another male preening in the sun.  This photos is barely cropped.  I was standing on the rock jetty about 15 feet away.
Male Harlequin preening
 As if those shots weren't enough, here is a photo of the Harlequin flapping his wings after preening AND a Purple Sandpiper wandered into the same frame.  I almost fainted when I saw that this shot turned out.

Harlequin and Purple Sandpiper
 What was Roxy doing while I was on top of the jetty photographing gaudy ducks?  Check it out - she refuses to come on to the jetty which is a good thing since her presence would definitely scare off all of the birds and I would never allow that to happen.  But there she is at the edge of the water wagging her tail waiting for me to return.  Good dog!

Roxy at Barnegat Lighhouse
More to come. I'll post other photos and the rest of Sunday's story later in the week.
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