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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Golden Eagle/Ring Necked Ducks

Sumas Prairie/Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve. Tuesday February 19, 2013
It doesn't matter how many times one looks at a field guide it isn't until you see a particular species in the field that all the pieces come together. This for me is/was the case with the Golden eagle and the immature Bald eagle, both of which can look similar, especially at a distance. After thinking we had seen one Golden eagle after Golden eagle only to discover on close inspection they were actually immature 'Baldies' we began to wonder if our outing was to be in vain. After a few hours searching and as we drove along Boundary and No.5 on Sumas Prairie we had suddenly located our quarry.
Next problem, we couldn't get a shot unless we stood in the middle of a very busy No5 road. From our position we could only see the bird's rear end. How could get a better shot, could we get permission to enter a nearby field? I knocked on the farmer's door but no one was home. Not wanting to trespass and following good birding etiquette we thought we would have to settle for partially obstructed rear end views.. not the best!
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

As karma would have it (it's funny how these things work when you don't fret about things) a farmer came out from an adjacent house to collect his mail and asked us what we were doing. Explaining our problem with the direction of light and composition he took us into the field explaining that the barking dogs wouldn't attack us. Five minutes later with no branches obscuring our views we both had our shots, the image above is my favourite from a series of seven. The composition works for me, the undulation of the wings gives the sense of motion needed in a flight shot and it sure beats the first shots we attempted shooting through branches and blinding sun.

With time on our hands we moved on the nearby Great Blue Heron Reserve where the lanky birds are arriving and will be on the nest within weeks. A quick walk around the lake turned up a few Pied grebes and some Ring-necked ducks which have a ring on the bill, so I'm not too sure where the name came from, i'll have to do some research.
All in all a wonderful day out in the sunny albeit bitterly cold Sumas Prairie.
Female Ring-necked duck (aythya collaris)

Male Ring-necked duck

Cheers

John

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