One Less on the Nemesis List

_N5A1996Every birder and bird photographer that I know has an unofficial nemesis list.  The list is usually comprised of birds that they have tried to see or capture images of.  For the photographer, the nemesis list usually starts with capturing a mediocre photo and then trying in vain to get a better one.  The Hooded Merganser has been on my nemesis list since I started taking bird photography seriously.  Back then, I was able to get some decent record shots but when I tried to get a ‘calendar shot’ I soon learned they are a skittish bird and a more stealthy approach would be required.  I have tried a number of times since then to find and stalk the Hooded Merganser.  Yesterday I realized I may get my chance.

Ben’s Ditch is a small creek that drains some of the developed wetland that is situated on the east side of Orillia and eventually that creek winds its way past the landfill, the sewage treatment plant and eventually into Lake Simcoe.  Ben’s Ditch stays open most of the year due to the warm water from the treatment plant and we always pause to take a look to see who could be there.   I checked out Ben’s Ditch yesterday and much to my delight, I saw a Hoodie casually swimming near some fallen trees.  With winter fast approaching and temperatures rapidly falling, I knew the window of opportunity was fleeting since there is no predicting when the Hoodies would leave to continue on their southerly migration.  So I bundled up this morning and hoped for the best!

The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of 3 mergansers found in North America, the others being the Common and Red-breasted.  Both the male and female Hoodies have a large collapsible crest but the male’s is quite extravagant with it’s large white crest.  The Hooded Merganser nests in tree cavities and the young jump out of their nest when they are only 24 hours old.

Hooded Merganser - male 1Hooded Merganser - male 2Hooded Merganser  - male 3Hooded Merganser  - male 5Hooded Merganser - female 1Hooded Merganser - female 2Hooded Merganser - female 3Hooded Merganser  - male 4Hooded Merganser  - male 6Hooded Merganser  - male 7

Thanks for stopping by!

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6 Comments

  1. Mary McIntyre November 14, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    You seized the day, Arnie. What a handsome duck. With the weather predictions for lots of snow in the next few days, your timing was perfect. I can see you stalking along the shoreline hauling that big lens. I like the term “nemisis list.” It’s a long list, isn’t it.

    • Arni November 14, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

      Thanks Mary, I was especially pleased that both of their crests were extended showing how they got their name. For these pictures, I had to go into stealth mode and I was using my small stool with the camera gear on the tripod. Everything including me, was covered with a custom camo cloth allowing me to get close and stay that way until the ducks came into view.

  2. Scott Martin November 14, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Congrats on crossing another one off the list Arni. Superb shots of both sexes. Hopefully they will stay around long enough so you can get some more time with them.

    • Arni November 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Your comments are much appreciated Scott. Even though I was ‘hidden’ they acted like something was amiss so I pretty happy I got some shots. It snowed quite a bit overnight and the temperature has dropped so I am hoping that the weather doesn’t push them further south, as you well know, you can never have enough images!

  3. Rob Smith November 16, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Arni, you sure have done this in style. Great shooting mate, trust you get many more opportunities

    • Arni November 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

      Thanks Rob, My timing was pretty good, I’m glad I got those then since there is close to 2 feet of snow on the ground now!