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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Tantra Lake’s Waterfowl

December 16th, 2012 · No Comments

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The sun briefly came out from behind the clouds on Sunday afternoon, so I walked out from my apartment in South Boulder to Tantra Lake and photographed our birds for an hour. I wanted to get some better shots of the migrating Ring-necked Ducks than I got the two previous afternoons.

Mostly, however, I saw Canada Geese. What we call “the goose step” is a special marching step that soldiers perform in formal military parades. But Canada Geese perform it informally.

True Goose-Stepping (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

True Goose-Stepping (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

While eight Ring-neck Ducks were on the lake yesterday, only three, all males, were there this afternoon. I most wanted to get a shot of one of them drying its wings. Early on, they were across the lake from me, but I captured this image of them in the distance:

Drying Wings (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 350mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

Drying Wings (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 350mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Since the ducks were so far away, the light wasn’t great, and I had captured this image, I got up to leave. But I stopped to shoot the one American Wigeon among the Mallards on the lawn:

How Round Can a Wigeon Get? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 310mm, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

How Round Can a Wigeon Get? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 310mm, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Then, when I turned around, I noticed that the three Ring-tailed Ducks were swimming toward me. Whenever they dove, I would move forward, and soon they got to the edge of the ice, which was quite close to me.

Now, the behavior that I most wanted to capture was the beginning of a dive. That was tough, because I couldn’t see that they gave any warning. So I did the next best thing and held my finger down on the shutter release. By taking 1,116 shots in the hour that I sat beside the lake, I got some divers:

Ring-necked Ducks Don't Close Their Eyes Underwater (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Ring-necked Ducks Don't Close Their Eyes Underwater (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
One Down, One on the Way (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

One Down, One on the Way (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

While I was watched these three male ducks, a lone female swam over to them. But this was a female Mallard, soon followed by several male Mallards:

Are You Coming My Way? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Are You Coming My Way? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
She Climbs onto the Ice (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

She Climbs onto the Ice (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/350th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Now, all I wanted to capture was a shot of the three males together. My photography mentor Russ Burden always encourages me to look for the opportunity to capture three birds in one picture, and this didn’t prove difficult. I especially appreciated when they got close together:

How Close Can They Get? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

How Close Can They Get? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250th, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
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