A run of warmer weather preceded the latest dip of the thermometer here in southern Alberta. That opened up a couple of the ponds at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary last weekend. The calm, open water drew in dozens of Canada geese, mallard ducks and a few common goldeneyes. A steady cacophony of quacks was the soundtrack by the water. Some calling out to partners, occasional angry exchanges and seemingly random squawking here and there.
The sun was low enough that the light was still warm and, to my eye, a bit buttery. I focused on moment of action – flapping to dry wings, short flights across the pond and a couple of chases.
I walked around Calgary’s Weaselhead Natural Environment Park this morning. The park is where the Elbow River spreads out across the flats into a delta threaded with smaller streams that drain into the Glenmore Reservoir. At the first bridge I crossed over, I noticed several female Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula) floating around. I watched them flying up to this nesting box gone slightly askew. It seemed they may have enjoyed the view from this spot .
When one would fly away it wouldn’t take long before a new duck stopped in. It seemed like I could hear murmurings about possession being 9/10ths of the law. However determination won a little longer rest on the perch for one of the Goldeneyes. She held her ground, flapped the wings and the would-be usurper flew back down to the river.
These three ladies threw some interesting looks at me, each other and across the river.
I have always loved the crazy colours and patterns displayed by the male Wood duck (Aix sponsa). They have been somewhat elusive in the areas I am typically out photographing wildlife. When I was at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary a couple of weeks ago, I came across a raft of them paddling around a chain of small ponds sheltered by overhanging branches above and reeds behind.
The ripples in the water and the distorted reflections served as a chaotic yet still suitable background to photograph these beautiful birds. I stopped and enjoyed almost an hour of watching these fellows swim, waddle and chase one another as well as their better halves. The weather picked a great time to cloud over and the diffused, even light allowed those colours and the textures in the feathers to own the stage in several of the images.
One of the last ones I photographed before moving on caught my eye as it hopped out of the water onto a log jutting out of the water. After shaking himself off, he cocked his head and fixed me with this one-eyed stare. The stare, his body posture along with the tail feathers slightly askew suggested a bit of a character and he was a fitting model to finish this duck encounter with.