Sandpiper Central

I’ve been away from this blog so long, I now don’t even know how to navigate WordPress anymore!

The winter months are always lean for photos, between a lot of things being dormant (or wintering elsewhere) and my being a giant baby when it comes to being out in the cold. I have, however, been to a few beaches over the last couple of months, so here are some of the sights I’ve seen:

Loon, Cape Cod

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Ruddy Duck, Westport Point

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Goldeneye, Wareham

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Absolute scads of Sanderlings and Dunlins, Gooseberry Point

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I have a Canon Rebel T3, which does some interesting vignetting (which may be the new 55-250mm lens). I think I like it,though…

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And this is a shorebird I haven’t seen before – a ruddy turnstone. Male, I believe. (Bird experts, please correct me if I’m wrong!) This is his winter plumage; their breeding plumage is striking, although I’d have to follow him up to Alaska to see it.

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BTW, I have a new shop on Etsy with both stock photos and fine art prints. The stock photos are the decent ones I’ve taken over the years, that I’m not necessarily in love with or attached to; the fine art prints are the ones I am most proud of and don’t want to essentially give away. I’m pretty happy with the logo I designed, which I also made a brush in Photoshop for easy watermarking.

Teacup Duck

I was psyched to get some good close-up shots of this cute lil’ grebe (if I’d had my purse, I might have snuck him home!).

Here is the scoop on photographing diving ducks: If you spot one, freeze. Stay perfectly still and wait. He will eventually dive. Then, take those 20-30 seconds to boogie as close as you can. It’s best to stand behind or beside something like a railing or tree, rather just looming there on his horizon when he resurfaces (you can also use it to steady your camera). If it isn’t wet, you can also sit, because it makes you that much less noticeable. The key is not to move when a duck is close by.

A Duck of a Different Color

I have several theories concerning these two large ducks that have been hanging out around the old landing.

One is that they are at least partly domesticated. They keep their distance but don’t actually flee at the presence of humans.

The other is that they may actually be a cross between a Muscovy duck, which breeds with pretty much anything, and wood ducks. The colors on what I assume is the male duck are just gorgeous, and the female has that subtle blue-gray coloration going on.

Duck

Duck feathers

Birds, berries and buffleheads

Yesterday was a gorgeous day to be outside, taking pictures. I went to Wareham and Marion, in search of ducks; there were a lot around, although not many close enough to get a good shot of. Marion in particular had more surf scoters than I’ve ever seen in my life, but waaaaay far out…

GoldeneyeHooded mergansers

In Fairhaven I got some nice shots of starlings in a tree, and a busy shot of three female buffleheads that I like nonetheless.

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Plus I did a good job of scaring off a couple of female red-breasted mergansers…

Red-breasted merganser

And then just a few winter-ish scenes. I am particularly pleased with the background colors in the red berries one…

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The Bluebird of Christmas

Walking on the beach in Westport, the day before Christmas, one expects to see Eiders…

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Brant Geese with fat white bottoms…

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and… bluebirds???

Bluebird

I’ve never seen bluebirds before, so this is a “lifer” for me. I can only assume they were on their way from point A to point B, because I wouldn’t think New England would be where they’d choose to hang out for the winter!

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Ducks of a different color

It was cold and blustery this morning. While I saw some of our “usual” winter ducks – buffleheads, mergansers and hooded mergansers – I saw a few unusual ones, including a pair of long-tailed ducks, which I’ve only ever seen one other time in my life. This is the best shot I was able to get because the water was so choppy:

Long-tailed duck

I just love their markings! I think they actually kick hooded mergansers out of first place as my favorite ducks, they are so beautiful.

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These are just some mallards, but I really liked the light…

Mallards

Near them were two giant ducks, napping. At first I thought they were wood ducks, but then I got a better look at them and realized they weren’t. My theory is that they are a cross between a wood duck and a muscovy, which will mate with pretty much anything.

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Any birders out there who agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your theories!

Around dusk I was at down at the beach, taking some abstract pictures of the surface of the water, and saw mergansers, buffleheads, another long-tailed duck, and a grebe. Good day for ducks!

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A duckling of another color

Wandered around Buttonwood Park today taking pictures of all the cute, fuzzy ducklings and goslings (no cygnets this year, sadly).

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I also noticed this mallard with three babies – two that looked like hers and one that she may have taken in, unless mallards are like cats and can have babies from multiple partners? I don’t really know, but if someone does know, I’d love to learn. I also did two short videos of them, which are posted on YouTube (just click on the image).

Ducklings