Blue Wing Pass.

I drove to Bear Island WMA for another round of being me, before another weekend of pretending to be normal.

I swung by Hotspot #1, but it was inaccessible, so I went to plan B: Duck Alley. I should have named it Tri-Colored Heron Alley, because boy, were they thick in there today.

Mature Tri-Colored Heron on the left, juvenile on the right.

There were ducks too, the same resident Mottled Ducks I’d been seeing this summer. I was thinking we should be seeing some Teal around by now, so I decided to do some scouting elsewhere.

On the walk out I got strafed by an Osprey. The shot was into the sun, which is not my favorite. But hey, Osprey.

Backlit Osprey.

Almost to the truck, I heard a croak behind me. This Heron was saying “take my picture, please.” Ok.

I drove to another part of the WMA, parked by a gate and decided to do some walking. I didn’t have to go far, and Blue Wing Teal were everywhere.

Like Duck Alley, I was on a dike between two marshes. And, again, within a few minutes I could see where I needed to position myself. Ducks were flying back and forth between the marshes, and 90% of them were flying over the same spot on the dike.

Waterfowl do this. I’m not sure why. It’s like a road system in the marsh. Park yourself, watch for a few minutes, and soon you will see where the “road” is.

I hunted ducks for many years until I got tired of killing things. When I gave it up, I missed it. I missed being in the marshes, the smell of it and the sound of wings in the air. When a duck flies close enough, you can hear the muscles/ligaments moving with the wing beats. I missed all of it. So I’m back, with a camera. I will tell you it is just as much, if not more, fun.

If you think you’re good with BIF (bird in flight) captures, give Teal a try. They are without a doubt, the aerial acrobats of the duck world. When coming in to a marsh they twist sideways, fly upside down, drop tens of feet in a second, and in general drive you crazy trying to follow them.

Oh, I got some captures. About a one-in-ten ratio. And none of those twisty shots, as you see.

Above you see two Blue Wing Teal, one with green on its speculum and one without. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe that is a male characteristic?

While stumbling around out there I came upon some Black Bellied Whistling Ducks. Designed with a sense of humor in mind, they sport Mohawk hairdos and pink bills.

So there it is, Blue Wing Pass. Now I have another place to set up shop.

The Blue Wings won’t be around for long: a couple of weeks, maybe. They are ultimately headed for South America. They are the first ducks to migrate.

Ducks by nature are always a bit nervous, because you know: Getting shot at and all. But these seemed especially so. I did some checking and found that several northern states have already opened an early hunting season for Teal. These birds looked to me like they had been driven from their breeding grounds by hunters.

About 50 yards on the other side of that trunk is the Blue Wing Highway.

Published by Larry Maras

Nature Photographer in Summerville, SC.

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