Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Last Day

I have paid my last visit to the river for this season. It surprises me how quickly seasons change and the look of the river changes. Most of the birds that do migrate are gone leaving the river to the few that stay, such as the Bald Eagle. In many more northerly parts of the country eagles migrate too, but they generally stay in the Chesapeake Bay region year-round. Many of the eagles that do migrate make this area their destination. The eagle population at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna increases dramatically this time of year from the forty or fifty residents to a couple hundred or more.

At this time of year, I am mainly interested in capturing Fall foliage at the river and any birds are a bonus. There was a sizable flock of Canada Geese that may have been there all night. They were there when I arrived, so I don't know. I was hoping to capture photos of them flying off.

Tides can vary enormously for a number of reasons including the moon's position, recent precipitation and wind. The dark stain on the dock pilings indicates how high the tide can reach. The water level in this photo is a good two to two-and-a-half feet below the high tide mark on the dock. I have rarely seen it this low. I think it had to do with the wind blowing water out of the Bay. I don't know what the attraction was for the seagulls. I had never seen them there before.

Some waterfowl can take off straight up into the air from the surface of the water while others need to be able to "walk" across the water. Cormorants fall into the latter category. I love to film them taking off because it is a process that occurs too fast to be able to examine with just the naked eye. They have these huge floppy feet which actually pull the water up in piles rather than create a hole where their feet slap the water. This photo was taken at 1/2000th of a second, so it freezes the water in place pretty well.

One of my favorite scenes in the stretch of river. It is always nice if there is an Eagle or a Great Blue Heron sitting on the dead falls, but that was not to be on this morning.

The nice thing about geese is they will let you know when they are getting ready to leave. They chat it up before leaving, maybe talking about where they want to go. Who knows? I just know when you hear it, get ready. This is the type of iconic shot I think of when I think of geese in the Fall.

There are not too many places in the county where you can see an expansive view of an area. Although there are a lot of rolling hills, there are a scarcity of places you can see more than a few acres at a time. The river, though, has the advantage of allowing quite a bit of room between the camera and the scene so that more landscape can be included as well as more of the sky.

Throw in a few geese and you have the makings of a nice scenic. The geese get very restless this time of year. They don't like being shot at. At our house, I notice in the early Fall when they first begin to return to the cornfields with their young, they fly fairly low. Once they have been shot at, however, they travel much higher, out of range of the guns.

The geese fly up and down the river looking for a safe haven from the guns. Some flocks are huge. This photo represents only part of the flock. There were many more behind this disorganized clot of birds.

There are other places to film birds that allow someone with a camera to get much closer. So as the seasons change up, it is time for me to change up too. I have done a little scouting around over the summer. I hope to have some success over the next few months filming waterfowl in other locations.

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