Monday, February 10, 2014

Birding, in black and white

Well, there are still reports coming in of local Snowy Owls, however they seem to be one hit wonders.  Many birders have gone out looking for them, only to not find anything.  This late in the invasion, that would make sense, as any snowy still down this far south would likely be in grave condition.

This year has been the year of the White-winged Scoter.  I have been seeing a good deal of them reported at many places.  Open water has been hard to find this unusually cold winter.  I had eight on the East Fork CBC last month.  Usually, one isn't able to get good looks at them.  Most of the scoters I have come across birding are a distance.  Well, that is not the case at Lake Isabella in Hamilton, Co., OH.  A fishing lake with an aerator has created a small open area of water very near the dock.  With open water being so hard to find this season, it has been particularly active.  With reports of both scoters and other cool ducks, I had to go check this out.  I am glad I did!

When I first arrived, I spotted the White-winged Scoters right off the dock.  They remained sleeping for a while, so I put my freezing hands in my pockets and waited.

They are awaking!  The adult male looks like he is sticking his tongue out, but it is just its odd shaped/colored bill.

It was very early in the morning and cloudy, so the light was filtered.  I waited, albeit very cold waiting.

It is coming very close!  Yes, that is a hole that you can see right through. You can see right through their nostrils!

What a beautiful duck!  The other two scoters went under the dock and I could hardly see them.  The male just kept swimming closer to me.

and closer still...

I love that eye and bill!  So gorgeous!  Here is a closeup of the face.

And as if this wasn't cool enough, Hooded Mergansers were not that far off displaying to females.  My hands were froze at this point, as I can't take pictures with my gloves on.  If my hands weren't numb from the cold, I could of maybe got shots of the males performing for the females.  I did manage to get a few shots before sprinted for the car.  

More gorgeous black and white ducks - 

It is so cool how just slight changes in his crest fan can change his look.  I think they looks so odd when they have it down.  It makes their eyes look like they are going to pop out of their heads.

The hoodie is special to me, as they have a significant impact on my becoming a birder when I was younger.

Keep watching birds and stay warm!


  1. Very cool (or freezing!) Donald.
    You're right, Scoters are such a difficult bird to find up close. The freezing condition are tough on them, but pretty advantageous from a birding/photography perspective.

  2. Awsome shot of the Scoter, such an unusual bird, and from what I have read its been an interesting winter as regards the Snowys.
    All the best Gordon.