Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Northern Pintail Drake

Northern Pintail Drake

I spent Sunday morning hiking around Tennessee Valley, hoping to have a chance to photography a bobcat or coyote. I did see a bobcat, although it was quite far away and in an unreachable meadow. The fog stayed around much heavier than the forecast called for, and I left the park with just a few shots on my memory card of some deer. On a whim, I decided to stop at Bothin Marsh (under the Highway 101 overpass, where it meets with CA-1) to look for birds. The light was awful, the fog was heavy, but the birds were there!

This is an awesome time of year to check out the marsh, which is a very heavily used stretch of Bay Trail, since the Northern Pintails are out in full force. They winter in this marsh, and on a previous visit here a polite birder that I chatted with there told me that it actually serves as a lek (ie, where the females pick a mate for the coming year). That certainly seems to be the case, since the males are constantly preening and trying to look their best, and very often a group of them will follow around a single female. So even with the poor light, I took a ton of shots of these elegant ducks, since its not often you get a chance to be so close to them!

Also, if you haven't heard, one of my images of two male tule elk fighting during the rut at Point Reyes is in the running for the Viewer's Choice award in the 2010 National Geographic photo contest. If you haven't already, I would really appreciate it if you follow this link to the NG site and rate my image as a 10! It's such an honor just to be mentioned in the same line as National Geographic, and its just so cool to have an image anywhere on their site! Thanks to everyone that voted for me yesterday -- a lot of votes came through for my image, and I'm potentially within range of the top spot with another strong turnout today! (Today, Dec. 15, is the last day to vote.)


Shared as part of the World Bird Wednesday meme -- follow this link to check out the other entries for the week!

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful Pintail. We have a lot here that come to visit for the winter.

    Some day I hope to have a better camera so I can capture my birds better. MB

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  2. Lucky you to have a marsh to check out. A very handsome fellow indeed.

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  3. That's a stunning capture. We get Pintail's here in the UK too but very rarely at such close range.

    http://my-life-outside.blogspot.com

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  4. First, your photo is, as Adam put it, stunning. Now, National Geo? That is awesome!!! Congrats!
    Finally, a bobcat? Are you NUTS? LOL

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  5. Oh, and I followed the link and rated your shot a 10.

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  6. One of my favourite winter visitors over here. A very elegant duck, captured in all its glory.

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  7. Great photo showing all the detail in this duck. Boom & Gary of The Vermilon River.

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  8. My vote is in!
    But why isn't your Grizzlies feeding on salmon in there too? Your Art has been NG level for a long time and it's was inevitable the recognition would come. Congratulations!
    Your eyesight must be 20/10 because nobody focuses as sharply or delivers a more elegant composition than you.
    I enjoyed the story of this capture as much as the image! ;-)WBW

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  9. That's a great photo of a very handsome bird.

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  10. A lovely image of a beautiful bird......

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  11. o, this is on my wish list. A bird I´d like to see. It is soo elegant.

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  12. I love pintail'S and your image is one of the best of it ;)

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  13. Nice capture, beautiful bird! Also very nice shot of the Elk, you got my vote :)

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  14. @Small City Scenes: Thanks! That's great that you have these near you too -- they are so much fun to see, especially the drakes with their elegant lines.

    @Arija: This is a lovely tidal marsh that often has many different duck and shorebird species on it. Its actually right along a really well used trail for biking and running, so the birds are pretty used to having people around.

    @Adam: Thanks! This is really the only place where I've been able to get close to pintails. In any other location, there's no way I'll get within a few meters of them like I can here.

    @Emptynester: Thanks for your complements and for voting! And the bobcats are a real treat. There's a stretch of national park in the Marin Headlands that has a healthy population of bobcats, and its possible to see one on any given day there. There are a handful of other local photographers that have taken exceptional images of them (here's a link to Trish Carney's site -- she's a master at finding them!)

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  15. @Early birder: I agree, they are by far the most elegant duck. I could just watch them for hours on end!

    @Gary: Thanks for your kind words and for voting in the contest!

    @holdingmoments: Thanks so much!

    @Springman: Thank you so much for your complements, but again you are too kind! It's a real honor to have been selected just to be one of their favorites of that week of submissions. I'm so excited that I actually have an image somewhere on the NG site! Thanks for voting, I'll be sure to have a post if I manage to finish anywhere of note.

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  16. @Mick: Thanks so much!

    @theconstantwalker: Thanks -- they are a beautiful species for sure!

    @Naturefootstep: I hope you have a chance to see one soon, they really are a pleasure!

    @Dominic: Thank you for your very kind words!

    @Øyvind: Thanks so much for your comment, and for voting!

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  17. Great shot of the Northern Pintail Pat. They are such handsome drakes. Congrats on the NatGeo photo too! I went and voted for it even though I guess it's too late for the contest. Good luck!

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  18. Fabulous capture of the Drake. The light was perfect. Dang...it is too late for me to vote. Hope you win!

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  19. @Larry: Thanks -- I agree they the drakes are so handsome, they really have the most beautiful shape and lines of any duck species. And thanks for voting for my NG image as well. I'm not sure when the actual voting has ended, but the page is still live and they haven't announced the Viewer's Choice winners yet.

    @dreamfalcon: Thanks! I got a lot of shots with choppy water, and was glad to see that this frame came out with a smooth surface.

    @Jean: Thanks! Heavily overcast lighting can be ugly in many situations, but on the plus side the scene is nicely evenly lit. I know many people shy away from gray days, but I enjoy them.

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