It was overcast and there wasn’t much happening in this corner of the marsh the day I captured this image. Most of the ducks were snoozing, and this mallard drake was resting in the cattails by himself. His iridescent green head really stood out among all the shades of brown in his immediate surroundings so I decided to add yet another mallard portrait to my collection.
I was out at the migratory bird sanctuary last week, and got to see and photograph up close a trumpeter swan…a first for me! They don’t usually hang out in the sanctuary. I was very excited. He was gliding around in the long slough that runs alongside the entry road, just inside the sanctuary gates, and didn’t seem bothered at all by the attention he was getting from me and a couple of other visitors. When I paid my entry, I commented about the swan to the attendant, and she said he’d been there for three days, and hoped he wasn’t hurt because the rest of the swans had now departed the surrounding area for points north. When I got home that night, and downloaded my day’s photos onto my computer, I went immediately to the swan captures. I think I’m not mistaken in thinking this poor guy is hanging around because he’s having trouble flying — it looks to me as if his flight feathers have taken a real beating! I had noticed when watching him that he kept refolding his wings, as if they didn’t feel right to him. In the stretch image, you can really see how many of his feathers are lacking vanes, or at least have really ratty looking vanes. I can’t help but wonder how he ended up like that. Hopefully, he didn’t suffer any injury as well. If he’s otherwise okay, and doesn’t go for walkabouts, he at least is in a safe place until his new feathers grow in. At this time of year there should be plenty of aquatic plant material for him to eat, there are a couple of cultivated fields adjacent to the slough (inside the sanctuary) for him to meander around, and if he swims up to the other end of the slough he will find the parking lot and lots of visitors happy to give him some grain.
He looked so elegant and regal swimming around in the slough, I do so hope he’s going to be okay.
I saw this pair of Canada geese as I was driving by the field where they were checking out this little pond located in a low spot. Maybe they were thinking it would be a good place to raise a family. I liked the tree growing in the middle of the pond. It was perfect timing for capturing the image as the pair moved onto the bank a few seconds later.
A visit to the migratory bird sanctuary on the coast almost always provides opportunities to photograph Canada geese, and they frequently can be seen resting beside the water’s edge somewhere in the sanctuary. I captured this one on a previous visit. She wasn’t disturbed at all by my approach from behind and didn’t bother to get up even when I had to squeeze past her to continue on my way.
During migration periods in spring and fall, the nearby migratory bird sanctuary is a stop-off for a couple of dozen or so Sandhill cranes. But in the past couple of years there have been a handful of these elegant birds that have stayed year round, and have followed the lead of the ubiquitous mallards who shamelessly mob sanctuary visitors for food handouts. Two or three of the cranes will even eat from a grain-filled hand… There is one crane in particular that i like to hand-feed, one of the more mature birds, because his bill isn’t aligned well so that at the end point of the bill the upper and lower pieces cross slightly, enough to prevent him from picking grain off the ground. He seems in good shape physically so I gather he manages to feed himself one way or another, however I like to make sure he gets his share of the goodies when I’m there. He’s a bit more stand-offish than the younger birds, but gladly and politely accepts my offering if I make a point to single him out and approach him.
Here’s another song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched in a winter-dormant salmonberry thicket (Rubus spectabilis), overlooking the marsh. Because song sparrows vary in color according to region, and in this area at least I see many variations in their color, I sometimes have a difficult time positively identifying them as they can resemble other sparrows in color and size. I think I’m pretty safe in calling this one a song sparrow, however, even though s/he wasn’t singing the day I captured this image.