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Duck, Duck... Woodpecker

2/1/2019 - 2/3/2019


As the weekend approached, I was eagerly planning where I wanted to shoot. The polar vortex was fizzling out, but it was not going to go quietly. I had one more good day of freezing weather on Friday, and then a major warm-up was coming. After some quick messages back-and-forth with Mike Bourdon (a great photographer out of South Bend), I decided to head north to shoot ducks on Saturday morning.


But, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. With the time working on Sunday, I had some time to spare on Friday. After braving the unplowed streets of Indy to attend a client meeting in Fishers, I headed home to do some shooting in the "surprise" snowstorm overnight. We had about 5 inches of snow, and I wanted a few more shots of birds in the snow. The surprise shot being a Belted Kingfisher checking out the unfrozen portion of the creek behind the house.


Saturday morning found me greeting Mike in South Bend. We scoped out the area we wanted to shoot from, discussed a plan, assessed the lighting, and got into position. Everything was ready; except the ducks. They would float around the bend, look at me, and head the other way. We tried a few different things, but it's hard to hide on a snow-covered bank when you are dressed like a bundled-up ninja. I did way better then I thought I had for the day, but not as well as I'd dreamed of - do you ever? The surprise of the day wasn't that I got some take-off shots; it was that I got a pop-up shot. I managed to capture a Greater Scaup just as it burst to the surface of the river. Definitely a shot I will never reproduce. I also loved that we had a Wild Turkey there. I've teasingly referred to it as an Anhinga, which is sometimes called a "water turkey". While I did not get the merganser shots I'd hoped for, I was pretty happy with the photos I got. After hours of laying in the snow, the sun finally clouded over, and I started the three-hour drive home.



While I was lounging in the snow on Saturday, Amy Hodson, another good photographer from Indianapolis, was leading a photo trip at Eagle Creek Park for Amos Butler Audubon. She had a good group and some pretty good success with Eastern Towhee and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Since I could always use better shots of Red-headed Woodpecker, I decided to head there on Sunday. Sunday was darkly cloudy when I woke up. I procrastinated and finally decided to head over around 9. That's when I discovered it was only cloudy on my side of town.... I arrived to find a very busy park. The weather peaked out at 60 today, and it felt hot. Everywhere I went, it seemed the Red-headed Woodpeckers had just left. After bouncing around (and socializing a bit) I finally walked away from the group and setup to patiently wait. While waiting, I had some Eastern Bluebirds come through. The woodpeckers remained shy and distant, but I finally managed to sneak in a couple shots. I was happy to get my target.



Thanks for reading,

Mike



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