Destination: Bear Island WMA this morning, I wanted to monitor the duck migration. Most of Bear Island is closed for deer hunting, but there are a few dikes you can get on to–legally–that will put a person close to the action. Duck Alley was one of them.
I arrived about 15 minutes before sunrise. Walking on to the dike I could see large flocks of Ibis, both White and Glossy, in the air. A little early for the camera, I made my way to my favorite hide and sat down by a scrubby palmetto shrub.
It was Golden Hour, and almost light enough for the camera settings I like to use for birds in flight. I decided to get up and walk to the other side of the dike.
I turned to look behind me, and said to myself “Holy Crap!” There, in the marsh 50 yards behind my hide were 70-100 birds, mostly White Ibis. When they saw me, they exploded into the sky.
I don’t like to spook large flocks, but that ship had already sailed. So, I took advantage of the opportunity, regretful though it was.
It took me a while to figure out where they had come from. They weren’t there when I sat down, and they definitely didn’t land behind me while I was sitting there. With that many birds, it would have been quite a noise. Apparently they had swam into that area from further out in the marsh.
More Ibis in the air now, several hundred of them. I had some great opportunities.
Also, some new ducks. I’m not even sure what these are.
Rather than be surprised by birds sneaking up on my 6 again, I requested a look-out from the Marsh Master. One was dispatched immediately.
And, out in the marsh a Tri-Colored Heron attempting a graceful landing gets photo-bombed by a colleague. Oh, the shame.
I decided it was time to move on. It was early enough to make a stop at Donnelly WMA and see if it was closed. Surprisingly, the gates to the drive were open. I headed down to the Lodge Pond, but it was pretty quiet. Lunch was weighing heavy on my mind, so I started to leave. On the way, I passed this Sulphur Butterfly and pulled over to get a shot.
This little Butterfly gave me a nice finish to my morning, because after taking the shot, I noticed movement in the air to my left. Here comes an Osprey carrying a fish!
Then, I got to capture “the shake.” When an Osprey dives after a fish, they understandably get a lot of water in their feathers. Once airborne, they shake like a dog to lighten the load.
I’ve seen them loose a fish doing the shake. But, not this one.
Then, off it went to a nearby pine tree to eat lunch.
I was standing there in awe of my luck, when there was more movement…off to my right this time.
And, ducks! An adult Blue Wing Teal drake and hen.
If not for a photogenic butterfly, I would missed all of these.
Driving out, a Red Tailed Hawk played Peek-A-Boo with me.
What a morning.