A cool harbinger of spring arrived a few weeks ago- Boulder's hybrid Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal is back for at least its 6th year! I first saw and photographed it in 2002 and it has turned up every spring since at Walden Ponds Natural Area. I had some pics and mentioned it in my blog last year but I think I got better shots this time around. It was with a male Cinnamon Teal, and I like the comparative shots. I've never seen the bird alone, which makes me wonder if the clean CITE is always the same bird that has accompanied it, too. I've also seen a female Cinnamon or two with the guys, but this time they were going stag- no hens to be seen. The ability to track a unique individual like this gives a rare insight into the site fidelity of dabblers like this- otherwise, who would know if it was a particular duck returning year after year? (Unless it was color banded, I guess, but even then you would have to catch it out of the water to see the bands.)
Oh, and for you equipment geeks, I was out at Walden trying my new camera body- a Nikon D300 that arrived last Thursday. Looks good so far and the 3" LCD is simply stunning, but I really haven't had the chance to put it through its paces yet. That will all change next week with a big crane and chicken chase in the first part of my spring break. The D2X is needing some maintenance and I can't bear the thought of spring birding without my DSLR at the ready. When I get the D2X body back, I'll be able to keep my big gun (Nikon 200-400 f/4 VR) on one, and my smaller 70-200 f/2.8 VR mounted on the other for flight grabs or wider-angle work. Stay tuned for updates- anyone out there running the D300 have tips for me??