The Great Blue Heron Stare

As the sun was setting, I spotted a Great Blue Heron hiding at Blackwater NWR.

He had already seen and locked eyes on me.

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Great Blue Heron – “The Stare”

 

Those eyes!  Sometimes their stare can be a bit intimidating…..

I can guarantee you he won the staring contest.

 

 

“Cassie” Canvasback’s Return

If you followed me last year, you may recall my posts (highlighted below) on a female Canvasback that I named “Cassie”.  She had not migrated back to Canada last Spring, so I took a special interest in her and learned her left wing was damaged.  Cassie wasn’t able to fly back home to breed.

     She Is A Survivor  (first post May 30, 2018)

Cassie hung around Cambridge Creek throughout the summer and was a delight and inspiration to me.  I adored her, but as comes with getting attached, I worried about her survival too.  Yet, she continued to prove she could take care of herself.  Even if she could not fly, nor dive for food.

     Cassie Canvasback – Remember Me?  (second post August 2, 2018)

After the second post, I captured her a few more times.  Here is one of the last photogenic shots of her back then hanging at our end of the creek.

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“Cassie” Canvasback – August 10, 2018

 

I sighted her a few times after that, but it was at a distance down the creek.  Those sightings became less and less.  By the end of September, I didn’t see her any more.  The wintering Canvasbacks weren’t due here until December.  What had happened to her?  I worried and continued to watch for her.

On the afternoon of December 21st, I stepped out on my balcony to check for wildlife on the creek.  Lo and behold, there was a female Canvasback below me.  Cassie was back and pretty as ever!

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“Cassie” Canvasback – December 21, 2018

 

How did I know it was her?  It’s as if she read my mind.  Cassie flashed her wings for me shortly thereafter.

         “Cassie” Canvasback                                    See damage to her left wing in this photo?

 

I could tell many of her feathers had grown back on her left wing.  How wonderful!  Is she able to fly now?  I don’t know that yet; I hope if she can, she will fly in or out of the creek one day to show me.

What about diving for food, can she do that now?  She couldn’t before and had to forage piers, boats, and bulkheads for food.

Two days later, Cassie showed off her redeveloped diving skills.  I was delighted for her!

Cassie showing me her diving skills

 

Did you miss that?  Here, Cassie will do it again for you.

Cassie doing the dive

 

More from the past several weeks of beautiful “Cassie”.

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“Reflecting Cassie”

 

Even ducks have itches!

 

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“On the Move”

 

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“Nap Time”

 

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“Making Water Rings”

 

We iced over here at the top end of Cambridge Creek; and, of course, all the birds disappeared but the gulls.  The ice has since melted, and I saw Cassie yesterday.

Even though hundreds of Canvasbacks are not too far from the creek’s entrance off the Choptank River, and maybe that is where Cassie has been “hiding”, how nice that she returned to Cambridge Creek that offered her a home to keep her healthy and safe as she healed through her wing injury the past year.

Welcome back, Cassie!

 

 

Snow Fog & A Pair of Eagles

The mid-Atlantic region received 2-8 inches of snow a couple of days ago (we got 4-5 inches), which was followed by an artic blast, dropping our temperatures well below average the last two days.

However, the quick rise in today’s temperatures to over 40°F created area patches of snow fog throughout the region.  A perfect day to be out for photo opportunities, but we had errands.

Yes, I still went prepared, “just in case”.

Driving a back-road, we sighted a pair of Bald Eagles ahead of us, eating on a carcass; we pulled over quickly.  This annoyed the Eagles, and they took flight before my lens was out the passenger window.

I got a nice focus on my second shot as the pair flew past an old farm building and towards a bit of fog.

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Bald Eagles

 

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Bald Eagles

 

They quickly landed in a patch of fog behind us, looking at each other and us.  There was a meal ‘back there’ they really didn’t want to leave.

 

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Bald Eagles

 

Can you see the difference between the two Eagles?  In all the photos, the Eagle on the right is about four years old.  In another year, its head and tail will be pure white, having finally reached full adult plumage.

Having interrupted the Eagles’ meal wasn’t kind, so we quickly moved on with our travels.  You can bet the Eagles didn’t take too long to get back to their meal.

 

 

Series: Take A Moment and Enjoy A Sunset

I’m behind on my sunset series, but instead of sharing several recent ones, I’ll just share today’s, and catch the others up another time.

Because….it’s all about today.  The start and the finish.

I shot this panorama of today’s foggy sunrise over the Choptank River, where winter ducks were waking up.

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Sunrise over Choptank River – January 16, 2019

 

Tonight’s sunset didn’t have a whole lot of dramatics, but I did love the wispy cloud lit up by the setting sun, as well as the streaking trail of an airplane’s.

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Sunset over Cambridge Creek – January 16, 2019

 

In the sunset photo, there are gulls standing in the center on a thin layer of ice that has developed on parts of the creek from last night’s artic airblast.  With my zoom lens, I took some photos of those standing in the sunset’s reflecting light.  I am amazed the gulls are not falling through the ice!

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Herring Gulls at sunset on a section of thin ice

 

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free.  Don’t miss so many of them.”   ― Jo Walton

 

 

Lesser Scaup on Cambridge Creek

Another small group of ducks spending their daily life near me on Cambridge Creek are Lesser Scaup.

For a few weeks, it was just a single male Lesser Scaup swimming & diving, checking out the creek, marinas, and other inhabitants.

Here he is with his beautiful blue bill marked with a skinny black tip on the end.

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Lesser Scaup (male)

 

Last week, he was joined by six more Lesser Scaup, two females and four males.

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Lesser Scaup

 

As of today, all seven are still here.  Photo ops have been awesome.

 

 

The best part is they love diving and feeding right off the boat pier below my balcony.  Lucky me!

This three-photo series is of three Lesser Scaup diving.  In the first photo bottom left, you can see the first duck already submerged.  Then just as quickly number two and three were gone.  They are quick!

Lesser Scaup diving

 

Some more of my favorite shots to date….

 

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Lesser Scaup (female)

 

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Lesser Scaup (male & female)

 

It has been a delightful treat getting to watch all the winter visitors up close and personal while they live here temporarily on populated Cambridge Creek.

 

 

Pied-billed Grebe and Buffleheads

Two more wintering birds spending their daily life on Cambridge Creek and close to my balcony is a Pied-bald Grebe and two female Buffleheads.  Both of these tiny birds dive for food.

The Pied-billed Grebe has been very shy and stays mostly hidden under the marina piers.  It has been here on the creek since before Christmas.

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Pied-billed Grebe

 

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Pied-billed Grebe

 

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Pied-billed Grebe – “Silhouette Abstract”

 

I previously posted late last November that a female Bufflehead had been delighting me with its presence, and I shared several diving shots.

We now have two female Buffleheads that hang around, diving for food and resting.

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Buffleheads (females)

 

They are a bit skittish and stick close together.  It sure is nice to have a friend!

 

 

An Eye of Gold

In my last post I shared some shots of the winter ducks that have arrived at Cambridge’s Choptank River waterfront.  Some of these winter ducks are venturing up Cambridge Creek.  To my delight, some are coming up close enough to my balcony for me to watch and get some nice close-ups.

Because I’ve never had such an opportunity to photograph this duck, the first one I’m sharing is a male Common Goldeneye who has been hanging around the creek and below my balcony since the end of December.  I can’t get enough of him.

Some of my favorite shots so far of this beautiful duck….

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

When the sun hits just right, the Common Goldeneye’s head casts an iridescent green coloring.

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

This fella was always providing some pretty water circles and wakes, enticing me to take a lot of photos.

 

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

The male’s crisp black and white contrasting feathers on his back is quite striking.

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

 

An eye of gold…..

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Common Goldeneye (male)

 

There hasn’t been any sighting on the creek of a female Common Goldeneye, but this male has been friendly and hanging with some other visiting ducks.