I hope everyone that celebrates it had a safe and merry Christmas! We hear at Lifeintrigued headquarters have been busy trying to wrap up the year’s posts so we can start fresh again after the first. The plan is to get through the remaining three Yellowstone bird posts so I can spend January getting to the larger animals shot on our vacation last October. First on this list is kind of a surprise to me. Most of the time while Linda is driving, my eyes are focused out the window on trees and any water bodies we happen to pass. Linda is pretty tolerant of this behavior even when I give our special code word for STOP THE CAR – WE NEED TO GO BACK AND PHOTOGRAPH A BIRD I JUST SAW. This is shortened to a single word since we would be a quarter of a mile down the road before getting all that out (yes, she drives fast).
On one of these occasions out in Yellowstone I found these waterfowl enjoying a calm late afternoon.
For some strange reason I classified them as Goldeneyes and since I already had that bird checked off my Bird List I didn’t get overly excited about the shoot. The dark reflections off the water were wreaking havoc on the exposure. Adding time to bring in the details of the darker birds were causing some blowouts on the whiter ones. Our presence did not go unnoticed and almost immediately they started heading away from the shore.
When I got back home I started the post processing on this shoot, again, initially thinking they were goldeneyes. When it came time to check out some of their reference bios it became apparent that my early classification was wrong. Now the curiosity was peaking. Thumbing through all the reference books again revealed what appears to be Buffleheads. The markings on both the females (darker birds) and the breeding males (whiter ones) are a pretty good match. The region is also consistent and true to the reference information they didn’t make a sound the whole time I was snapping pictures. One of the other features of the breeding male is their iridescent head. It is difficult to see in these smaller pictures, but if you look directly at this picture…
you will see the different colors shimmering in the light.
Hit the jump to see additional pictures of the Bufflehead (including some of them taking off from the water)