First of all, mad props to Bird Chick for the idea of using animated gifs in the bird blogisphere- I'm gonna have fun with that!
Anyway, I went out to the S. Platte River last weekend on a Long-tailed Duck twitch. Not just any LTDU, mind you, but a full-on adult male (a plumage that rarely makes it to Colorado, and one I had never seen before.) As I was driving over the bridge near the ducky's favorite stretch of river I saw someone set up on the bike path with a scope- a good sign to start with. Even better, as I got closer, the birder (who turned out to be my friend Loch Kilpatrick) began gesturing at the river- BUENO!! And then, reaching a gap in the trees, I saw the little old brave.
Well, I anticipated spending at least an hour watching him, probably slowly working my way into the trees and sitting still so the little guy could swim on by for his portrait once things settled down. Instead, I only got about a dozen shots before a couple of fly-fishermen came along to angle in the same danged pool as the LTDU! Of all of the pools they could have chosen! And hey, fisherfolk, don't mind us guys with the big optics staring intently at the ducks you are about to flush!! Needless to say, it departed for points unknown with its consort of Common Goldeneyes and Lesser Scaup. And as far as I know it hasn't been seen since...
So I headed upstream to look for the LTDU, without any luck despite 3 hours and a couple of miles of searching (remember the part about not being seen since?) But I consoled myself by trying some wing shooting on the remaining non-LTDU waterfowl- I had good sunlight at my back, the snow-covered ground was giving a great bounce to light up birds from underneath, and there was a gentle downstream breeze to slow the rockets... er, ducks a little bit. This part of the river is always host to lots of wintering ducks, so there were plenty of opportunities. With flight shots there are lots of throw-aways, but I had some that worked. Here are some of my favs- enjoy.
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