Monday, December 19, 2011

Eurasian Wigeon II: Return of the Wigeon

The clouds and the chill stayed with us here in Phoenix, despite the best promises of the weather channel that they'd go away. Luckily the Eurasian Wigeon is still around too, and I endeavored to get some improved images to share. Between the 2 ponds, there are probably 4 or 5 dozen wigeons, and they all are very diligent sentinels. They would not tolerate any sort of approach, and it became apparent very soon that'd I'd have to be pretty sneaky if I was to improve on yesterday's pictures.

The Wigeons were fancying the south-shore grazing, which worked out in that there was actually a bit of sunlight. However, there was very little cover and I had to approach them from Camelback road, which meant I was doing the bootcamp-style belly crawl over these little grassy hills much to the honking amusement of passing traffic. As soon as I peered above the final slope, the Wigeons began their retreat, but it did afford a good look at the Eurasian.

The grass was nice and wet. When combined with the 40 degree temperatures and slight breeze, it made for a chilly stake-out. These two nearby Mourning Doves must've thought I looked pretty silly.

After a few more (unsuccessful) attempts to get a good angle of approach on the Wigeons, they left the west pond and moved over to the adjacent and slightly smaller eastern pond. This pond provided a better opportunity since there's an oleander hedge that provides some cover. While the Wigeons stayed out pretty far from the shore, the view was much improved.

Unfortunately it was still too dim outside to get that higher shutter speed. While these photos came out a bit blurry, it was nice to see the wing coloration. This brisk morning was a great way to end my 2011 year of birding in Phoenix. I'll be in New Hampshire for the next 2 weeks, which'll be a whole new and awesome opportunity. Hopefully there'll be lots to share.