What to do…

Big decision to make today. Rake the back yard, or take the camera and head to Bear Island?

A few miles down the road I ran into light fog. I was happy to see it as I love to photograph in fog. The closer I got to Bear Island, the heavier it got. By the time I was set up at Duck Alley, though, the sun was rapidly burning it off.

You might think fog is white, until you see a white bird against a foggy background.

It’s actually a soft grey, and makes a nice neutral background upon which bright colors really pop. The only caveat is your subject has to be fairly close. Too much fog between you and the subject, and the camera picks up the water droplets in the air. Like this:

Arriving at Duck Alley, two Bald Eagles from separate locations took flight. They would have been close enough to get decent captures. Note to self: Next time park down the road and walk into the parking area.

I walked on to the dike and sat down to observe traffic patterns for a few minutes. As I’ve mentioned before, birds in a marsh–particularly waterfowl–tend to follow repetitive flight patterns. As dumb luck would have it, this time I parked myself near one. There were a few great opportunities.

Snowy Egret
Roseate Spoonbill

This Roseate Spoonbill flew past me like I wasn’t there.

Of course, one of my favorite birds had to make an appearance: The Tri-Colored Heron. They have had a banner hatch this year.

The action slowed down a bit, so I looked around for other subjects…

….when I heard a familiar sound over my head. 9 feathered jets–Blue Wing Teal–flying with the wind zoomed past me, did a hard U-turn about 100 yards out into the marsh, and plunked down in the water, out of sight behind some rushes. Birds land and take off into the wind, but they love to fly with it whenever possible. Teal have been clocked at 45 mph, and I believe this bunch was doing all of that. I might not have gotten a capture even if I had seen them coming.

Ok then, time to move on. I stopped at an Observation Deck down the road and was walking a dike toward it when I heard a groaning sound behind some heavy vegetation on my left. I sneaked up to a clearing and peered over top of the weeds.

I would guess there were over a hundred birds in there. Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, a couple of Roseate Spoonbills, and who knows what else. I took a couple of shots and backed off. If I had continued walking into an open area ahead of me, the entire flock would have flushed. I don’t believe doing that to get a couple of photographs is ethical. Birds grouped together like this are either staging for migration, or already migrating. They don’t need any more stress.

On to Blue Wing Pass…For some reason, all of the gates on the Driving Tour route were open. A DNR employee told me once it was only open for a month in the spring. But, they were open today and no signs saying “Do Not Enter,” so enter I did.

Mottled Ducks
Great Blue Heron

Some of the usual cast, along with more Blue Wing Teal and a few Spoonbills. Also, this little guy:


This fearless little gator checked me out. Only about 2-3 feet long.

So, yes I like fog! Next time I’ll try to get there earlier. One of my favorite captures from last year was a Great Blue Heron in the fog, that I almost stumbled in to.

Published by Larry Maras

Nature Photographer in Summerville, SC.

2 thoughts on “What to do…

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