Thursday, March 5, 2015

Waterfowl in Flight

One of things on my photographic bucket list this winter was to film duck species I have not seen before. A secondary goal was to try to film them in flight. If you have ever watched ducks fly, you know that they can fly extremely fast. That can make it a challenge to obtain images before they get out of range.

An additional challenge is presented by the direction they are flying when they pass you. Shots of almost any bird flying directly at you are not very pleasing. The bird appears to be a series of circles with the body looking like a circle, then the head, then the bill. Shots head on can be pretty ugly and maybe I'll post some examples in a future post.

Birds flying away from you are not very good either - although there may be some value in seeing the pattern of the upper side of a bird in flight. That can be helpful in identification.

The best shots are when a bird flies past your location presenting a side view. This is a female Mallard. The blue area on the wing is called a 'speculum' and you will notice it is bordered by white on each side. Although many female species have a similar mottled color, the wing pattern as well as the dark area on an orange bill, denote this as a female Mallard.

Color can sometimes fool you. Notice how the speculum appears a rich, deep blue on the first three photos, but teal in the last. The direction of the light striking the bird can really change the appearance of a bird's color.

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