Friday, March 9, 2012

Why'd The Artist Go To The Pond?

To get her Canvasback! HAhaha...ha

Err hem yes well...third time was the charm for me trying to photograph this Canvasback, or at least it's about as close to charm as I think I'll get. In each of my subsequent 3 visits I've been able to get a little bit closer to the duck, but I'm having a lot of difficulty getting the exposure right. Since the Duck dives very often, its head is usually soaked and no amount of exposure compensation seems able to curb that bright, purple reflecting light. The birds feathers also then clump and darken so too much negative compensation for the water glare ruins the feather detail. When dry and properly fluffed, the Canvasback's coloration can match the Redhead's in its brilliance, but they prefer to dig in the mud instead. 

Here the duck's nictitating membrane is obscuring the pupil, giving the bird a rather feline gaze.

I love how much more heavy-duty the Canvasback's beak is than other ducks'. Usually the beak seems to recede into the feathers, like a fingernail into the cuticle (see this Ring-Necked Duck for comparison). But the Canvasback beak overlaps up on top of the facial feathers with much more definition.

This drake is definitely king of the Papago Ponds. With only Ring-Necked Ducks and Coots for competition, he's easily the biggest duck on the water, and that beak can make one go from living to dead in about 4.3 seconds.

It's been awesome spending time with this beautiful bird. I saw only one other this winter and was beginning to worry I'd miss my chance with spring now underway (I haven't seen a Northern Pintail now for weeks). Mr. Canvasback turned up just in time.

Here, from February of 2013, is another Canvasback (now there are a half dozen) visiting the Papago Ponds.