Monday, December 12, 2011

Moonset, Wing Blurs and Harlequin Ducks

Traveling Saturday down to Rhode Island for birding and photography, we went to an old standby, Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, Rhode Island, and to a new location that was recommended to me as a better location to photograph Harlequin Ducks. More on that location later in this blog.

The day was post be cloudy and then sunny, but, it started out raining and drizzling with a lowlight level. It, however did make for some interesting photographs.

We were in the parking lot at Sachuest, looking around to see if we could see any of the deer that I usually out feeding when, just prior to sunrise. I glanced across the bay at St. George's school and noticed a very bright light in the sky. When I looked with my binoculars, it turned out to be the moon starting to set. - ROT_9977 December 10, 2011 NIKON D3SUtilizing my 500 mm lens, which had a 1.7 tele-converter on it, the Puffin Pad on my window of the car and I obtained this photograph.

Since there was not much doing around the parking area of Sachuest, we traveled just down the road to the Middletown 3rd Beach, where the Sachuest Salt Marsh is located. Even though I shot at a ISO of 1100, my shutter speed was only one 250th of a sec. This made for some interesting wing blurs. My subjects included an American Black Duck and a Bonaparte's Gull.in winter plumage swimmingBonaparte’s Gull taking off

Black DuckAmerican Black Duck wing Flap

Bonaparte's GullBonaparte's Gull

We then went back up to the main refuge and travel down to Island Rocks, where we did view harlequin ducks among the other species that were swimming, but they were really too far away for great photographs. We returned to the visitors center via the Ocean View loop to see if there were any unusual birds present. We saw all of the sea ducks, except for Long-tailed ducks.

We then traveled into Newport, Rhode Island to Ledge Road, which is off of Belleview Avenue, just beyond the sharp right turn before Belleview Avenue turns into Ocean Drive. The very end of Ledge Road is part of The Cliff Walk. Ledge RdThe rocks off of the end of the road is where the harlequin ducks hang out, and lower the tide, the closer you can get to the ducks. Harlequin Duck FlyingDrake Harlequin in Flight

Harlequin Ducks Drakes landed in the water chasing the Hens

- Male harlequin DucksROT_0171 December 10, 2011 NIKON D3S Drakes on the Rocks

- ROT_0138-Edit-Edit-Edit December 10, 2011 NIKON D3SDrake and Hens Preening

A flight of purple sandpipers kept wheeling by the area.- Flock of Purple Sandpipers flying ROT_0141-Edit December 10, 2011 NIKON D3S