Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hoodies in the NWR

Last week I trekked out to the local wildlife refuge to follow a report of Great Horned Owl owlets that were about to leave their nest.  I went out with sketchy directions and did not locate them. 
Three days later when I went back out they had fledged and left the nest just hours before I got there.

During my first visit I spooked a pair of Hooded Mergansers in a tide flooded back water along the river. Hoodies are small drab fish eating ducks with long, narrow serrated bills. They nest in tree cavities and normally keep their distance from people as all wild ducks do.

A hasty retreat.

Yesterday I happened to find my way back to the refuge. The weather was about to turn from bad to really bad but there were scattered sun breaks that made it worth taking a chance on finding the owlets.  I headed out the trail when right there were the two little Hoodies I had seen last week. Completely unconcerned with myself and the camera.

 A stiff breeze from the approaching storm front made is difficult for these little duck to venture out to deeper water to feed. 

Pockets of calm water at the edge of the cattails made cozy little refuges in which they could preen and feed.

As the drake preened  the hen bathed and chased unseen bits of food among the plants.

The crest of the Hooded Merganser can dramatically change the appearance of the drake.  I have often had friends try to describe the Hooded Merganser to me with wild size, pattern and color claims.

Drab and nondescript, this gorgeous little girl shines when she comes out into the light.

Even with a photo in front of me how do I describe this to someone? She looks comical and sculpted.

The weather turned for the worse as forecast and the light quality dropped.  I did find the owlets but the light did not favor them as it did the Hoodies.  

We will do the owls another time.


Anonymous said...

Been awhile. I saw the Hoodies a couple weeks ago and also got some good shots. I was so lucky, the day I went a fellow birder took me to see the Bittern that lives out there. He/She was right off the boardwalk where the telescopes are.
Now I'm back in the desert and not seeing much of anything. Hope I can make it to Salton Sea. When we were there we we didn't get to the Sonny Bono NWR but when I went a couple years ago, it was amazing many birds I got to see.

Catherine said...

Love Hoodies - so much character! On a slow day I usually find myself back at the Port Orchard Marina, watching the 2 pair there. Nice to see them in a natural habitat - great photos!