A Wing Flapping Good Day
Heading back to Whitewater Wildlife Management Area on March 17, 2020, I found some new arrivals. I also had a few opportunities for some wing flap photos. Birds often flap their wings (without taking off) after preening, to warn competitors away or even just for fun. However, it's difficult to predict just when this behavior will occur and it's usually over and done with rather quickly so there's rarely time to react, frame, focus and shoot before it's done. For this reason I was very happy to not only capture one but a total of 3 wing-flaps on this particular outing.
I arrived before dawn on the morning of the 17th and spotted a pair of Sandhill Cranes just off the road long before there was sufficient light for photography. As I waited for the light, the cranes were happily feeding and preening in a marshy area, not very perturbed at all by my presence. I patiently but anxiously waited for that light, half afraid that the birds would take off or walk away before I would have a chance to photograph them. Finally, the early morning sun shone on them with a nice golden glow while they continued feeding and preening. I took many shots and, it was while I was in the middle of shooting that one of them flared its wings. Bingo! Successful photography is all about being in the right place at the right time with a little bit of luck thrown in. I could easily have been paying attention to the other bird when this happened in which case, I would have completely missed this moment!
Over the years, I've had particular difficulty catching a Trumpeter Swan flapping. Since they are such large birds, with huge wing spans, I often find that I'm zoomed in too close when they flap. They suddenly go from filling the frame to overflowing it! This particular swan was far enough away so there was plenty of room in the frame when the flapping began. Again, I was lucky enough to just happen to be photographing it when it decided to do the flap. I captured a few frames as it beat its wings back and forth but really like the arch in the neck and the position of the wings in this one. Looks like a choral or orchestra director.
New arrivals this week included a flock of Buffleheads. These small, flashy ducks were rushing back and forth chasing each other around and frequently flapping. The main problem capturing their wing flaps was that they were moving around so quickly, not to mention that they were some distance away. Otherwise, they sure gave me plenty of opportunities. I really love the patterns on the back of this male with his wings outstretched.
Other than the Buffleheads, I didn't encounter any new species on this trip. Of course, it had only been 4 days since my last visit and there was still some ice on the water. The migration was just starting to ramp up. There was sure to be more activity in the weeks to come.