Greetings once again all. I gave you a slight reprieve from the Wisconsin Birds Series at the end of the last month, but there are a few more to get through before closing out this series and moving on to Wisconsin Birds Series II (yep, thanks to taking so long to get through the first series, we’ve been back to the Land of Cheese and now have even more shots to share). Unfortunately, this particular post is bittersweet. On one hand it does provide support for a new checkmark in the bird list, however (head hung low, eyes wandering) it is also an unfortunate highlight of the execution fail. Having exhausted the ponds and lakes around Baraboo, we headed up further North about 45 minutes to a County Park. Neither of us can remember the name of that park but I do remember parking near a large observation deck positioned in the a middle of a field surrounded by a forest . The trees here were experiencing distress from some form of bug, blight or maybe a fire – tough to tell other than an earlier walk down another supposed observation deck uncovered large construction vehicles in the midst of bulldozing some of the larger trees down.
Signs indicated a trail to a pond so we grabbed the gear and headed out. After about 15 minutes we came upon a lonely pond and immediately thought PERFECT! Nobody around, secluded, and a clear view to the pond… and there was water fowl taking a leisurely paddle. I set the tripod down and went for the customary far shots so I would have something to show for the effort.
and…. we have come upon the very rare fuzzy duck! Okay, okay, so it was a poorly executed shot. I am not sure exactly what happened other than likely a bad compensation for the now very overcast afternoon (the downside of now shooting only in Manual Mode) or weakness in trying to hand stabilize The Beast. In either case it was my bad and I take full responsibility for it. On further thought, it might have just been excitement knowing this bird hadn’t made it into my tin as of yet. Even with the fuzziness, you can still tell it is a Ringed-Neck Duck – both a male and his mate. Here is another shot of just the male (no, the images do not get any better) that confirms it.
Hit the jump to read more about this new duck to LifeIntrigued.
It is actually a pretty cool bird, but one that apparently prefers its solitude. The minute we approached, the two of them spotted us and started their transition further out into the pond. I never managed to get a very crisp shot of either bird – come to think of it I wonder if I forgot I changed to rear-button focus (if you are a wildlife photographer that hasn’t done that yet, take my advice DO IT NOW, you will thank me later). Per the National Geographic Complete Birds of North America reference, the Ringed-Neck Duck is usually found in small ponds (check) and has a white wedge between breast and flanks (check) a dark purple head (have to trust me on this, check) and a white ring adjacent to a black tipped bill (we have confirmation). The Spring graph shows them in the middle of Wisconsin, but strangely, they claim these are widespread and fairly common. They do show zero range in the upper 4/5ths of Illinois but I have to question the fairly common based on the fact I have never seen one before and been to their coverage areas many times. True to the reference they didn’t make a sound the short amount of time they stuck around.
After about 2 minutes of trying to distance themselves they decided to seek refuge somewhere else. Guess what is even harder to get with The Beast than a swimming duck.. that’s right, a duck in flight. The best shot I could muster was the following one of the male as it freed itself from the water. (eeesh, actually turned out slightly crisper than my other shots).
There was a bench by the pond so we decided to rest for a bit and see if they would come back. It also gave me a chance to experience the disappointment before post processing – pretty bad when you can tell you missed the shot from the rear LCD. They never came back so I took some comfort in knowing I’d just witnessed a cool new duck and at least had enough evidence to officially mark it off my list. Needless to say I’ll be looking to improve on my Ring-Necked Duck shot in the future. By the way, I find it extremely odd that this bird is named Ringed-Neck when in fact it does not have a ringed neck, but rather a ringed bill – how odd.
Once again, sorry for the crappy shots – and I might as well apologize ahead of time for a few of the less than tack sharp shots in the next post.