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March 02, 2009

My path to discovering Vermont Waterfowl

Living in Vermont provides me with constant opportunities to make lots of landscape photographs. Everyday, no matter where I go I come across some picturesque scene and can't stop myself from photographing it. Sometimes even when I'm running behind or late. I hope I never become blasé to the beauty here.

There are many times of year when I do nothing but crisscross the entire state going to my favorite spots to make photographs at sunrise and sunset or wait hours at some barn until the clouds, light and shadows are "just right."

When the weather is changing and the sky is going to be dramatic I obsesses about going out to capture it and where I can work it best into some specific landscape. I couldn't care less if I get soaked in the process. All I want to do is get the image I pre-visualized.

My favorite thing though, is when I unexpectedly come across natural wildlife when shooting landscapes and working it into the scene or making it the prime subject. What kind of animals or birds it might be doesn't much matter to me.

I enjoy photographing Black-capped Chickadees, deer and voles just as much as Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Black Bears. But lately, I've gotten very serious about seeking out specific types, if not species, of wildlife to photograph rather than coming across it through happenstance and being an opportunistic photographer of it. It hasn't been easy.

I've been spending a lot of my free hours this winter freezing my toes off in a hunting blind and waiting for the wildlife. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Much to my own surprise I LOVE every freezing cold minute of it! I even enjoy the days where I didn't get one good image because nothing got close enough. The landscape and scenery is still breathtaking and the peace and quiet of the outdoors which is only interrupted by natural sounds like ice expanding or contracting, foot steps of animals walking through the snow or birds flying, landing, taking off or calling is sublime.

For the past couple weeks I've been photographing different species of diving ducks on Lake Champlain like the Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Hooded Mergansers, Lesser Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser. Up until a few weeks ago I never knew anything about them, let alone that they were here in Vermont. When I'm not working or out photographing them I've been reading about diving ducks and other waterfowl in Vermont. It's been such a fun experience observing, photographing and learning more about these fascinating and adorable birds.

Now through late April is a great time to view waterfowl in Vermont as many species stop here on their way to more northern breeding grounds. To watch them all you need to do is find open water (not ice), have a decent pair of binoculars, and keep still and quiet. (Its best to leave young children at home as they're unable to stay quiet or still long enough.) However, unfortunately to capture decent photographs of most waterfowl you need a lot of specialized gear as point and shoot cameras cannot provide the magnification (zoom), stability, or speed that is required.

The Lake Champlain Ferry Docks in Charlotte and Grand Isle have been good spots, when they're not frozen. (Grand Isle was completely frozen yesterday and Charlotte probably is or will be after today. But, later in the week I think the lake should open up again. Also note: You cannot go on Lake Champlain Ferry property unless you're crossing on the ferry but there are good vantage points near each.)

Sorry, I don't have any photographs to go with this post as I don't have the time (or drive) to sort/rate and digitally process any of these shots right now. As always, I'd much rather spend my time behind a camera making photographs than spending time sitting behind my computer.

Posted in Photography , Twitter , Vermont by usrbingeek at 2009-03-02 16:24 ET (GMT-5) | 0 Comments | Permalink



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