The Ducks that Got Away – Drats

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.

Continue reading The Ducks that Got Away – Drats

A New Warbler Addition

Since you patiently read through the last somewhat boring bird (the Mallard) post, I figured it would be prudent to now offer the latest new bird to my collection (the one I promised at the start of the Wisconsin Birds series).  With that…. drum roll … I’d like to introduce what I believe to be the Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

This male Warbler was shot at Devil’s Lake near Baraboo Wisconsin.  As with the rest of this series it was taken over last Easter Weekend.  We were actually up on the very picturesque cliffs overlooking the glacier formed lake when this bird flew over my head and landed in a nearby tree.  At the time I trying my best to capture Turkey Vultures which were circling the cliffs.  The frustration levels were mounting trying to get The Beast zeroed in and focused on those birds which, due to the height of the cliffs, were actually speeding by below us.  The yellow markings on this Warbler were pretty unique which caught my attention immediately.  Screw the Vultures, we’ve got a new bird to track down.  One thing that became painfully clear with this Warbler (and likely generalized to all of these Warblers) is it did not want to stay in one place very long at all.  It would land, give me about 3 seconds to get the big glass in position, get the exposure settings right and finally take one shot.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of this new Warbler

Continue reading A New Warbler Addition

A Majestic Domestic Spotted in Baraboo

Once again, we are back in Baraboo, Wisconsin but this time with specimens from the Goose family.  First off, an apology.  The title of this post really doesn’t fit based on a crap load of Internet research.  After frying a bunch of synapse coming up with a clever title I hated to give it up so we are going with it.  This series of pictures was taken on our way home from our Easter stay at Chula Vista Resort.  just outside the Dells.  Our trek home took us through the city of Baraboo which always makes me shudder in fright  … who in their right mind would take the effort to make a Circus Museum?!?  I’ll answer that, a DERANGED CLOWN LOVER that’s who.  Give me a second to get the heart calmed down..

beatbeatbeatbe atbe atb e atb e atb e a tbe e a t b e a t b e a t   ahhhh that was close

Continuing on, there is a nice stream that runs through that city which can be seen from the main thoroughfare (as it heads to Devil’s Head if you are curious).  On that day we spotted a couple of birds hanging out along the shore.  Not wanting to pass up a shot opportunity I had Linda turn onto a side road for some in vehicle shots – the Beast was on the camera so there was plenty of reach.  Turns out we were stopped right next to a No Parking sign and some cars were giving us disproving looks.  Not wanting to ruffle the locals, Linda dropped me off and started cruising around while I took some more shots from the banks.  Turns out the final product had a nice surprise.

It was high day which put up a pretty good fight on the exposure effort.  Admittedly, there is some blowout just below the neck, but was able to recover a lot of the feature detail outside that (embrace the RAW).  At the time, the small LCD screen was not able to really show a unique feature of the bird, but once in the digital darkroom it came out crystal clear.  Let’s move in a bit so you can see for yourself.

That eye is just plain gorgeous.  The orange eyelids really make it pop against the white coloring.  The sun angle even gave the highly desired glint.  To do it again I would have backed the exposure off one or two stops and then brought the light back in post processing.  Recovery restored a lot of the detail around the head, so a tighter crop would take out some of the blow outs, but there needs to be some of it left – otherwise it would look like someone took an ax to it (eesh).  As an example, here is another tight crop which gives even a better view of the eye but again, a less appealing crop from an overall composition perspective… and yes, I needed to apply some additional recovery on this version to get the detail back in the head feathering.

Hit the jump to see more pictures from this post

Continue reading A Majestic Domestic Spotted in Baraboo

The X-Ducks of Wisconsin

Howdy all, I was recently reminded that we are half way through the steamy month of July and there is yet to be a post on the blog. You would think with how hot it has been in the last two weeks I’d be cranking out post after post in the comfort of my air conditioned den. On the contrary, I’ve been swamped with activities as of late which has included wrapping up phase one of my summer project (literally put the last piece in that phase a mere two hours ago) and a healthy (or not) dose of heat running conditioning needed for the Bix race at the end of the month. I do not want a repeat of the Steamboat race and it looks like there has been some improvement based on my recent Bix@6 training run (93-95 out when the training race started last Thursday and it went quite well). The good news is all the post processing work on this month’s series of posts is already complete!   …and just what is the topic this month…

After much thought and contemplation I’m going with the birds captured during our photo shoot taken  in Wisconsin over Easter. Tragically, this means another month (at least) will pass before getting to the Indy Zoo pictures and the birds of Banner Marsh.

It’s quiz time.  Any guesses as to what that water fowl is (note, these are all non-shopped)?

If you can identify it, please feel free to let me know.  As far as I can tell this is another mutant specimen.  If you recall, this is not the first mutant to grace these pages.  The mallard derivative from the Emoquon series certainly fits this category (link here).    This strange bird has more of the duck features than the goose characteristics in that previous one.  It was also easier to pick out the main ingredients that made that bird.

This on the other hand doesn’t really match anything.  The dominant white and the the black tail feathers would put it somewhere in the Snow Goose realm (or just the white neck and orange beak has traits of an Embden Goose), but it took the stature of a smaller duck.

it that wasn’t fun enough, let’s move on to mutant specimen number 2 and 3.  The one on the right looks like someone sawed the head off the one above and slapped a better Mallard head on it.  Those Mallards must really like to sow their oats.

Shifting to the one of the left.  They were hanging together so the assumption is they were mates.  The left is likely the female due to the dominant male Mallard coloring on the right one.  It looks closer to an Eskimo Sandwich than it does a duck.  The breast feathering almost has a turkey composition and nothing in the reference books really showed markings that chocolaty.

Hit the jump to see even more strange waterfowl.

Continue reading The X-Ducks of Wisconsin