Wanamassa Birds

I frequently stroll the streets of Wanamassa, NJ, with camera at the ready to take pictures of birds.

My Photo
Location: Ocean, New Jersey, United States

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Franklin Lake Again

After last week's success, I decided to revisit Franklin Lake in West Long Branch this afternoon in fairly bright sunshine (although it was a bit chilly, especially during some of the wind gusts that sprang up every now and then). I picked up some new batteries on the way, and it was a good job too because after just one picture I had to replace them. I remembered that the AV settings would have reverted to the factory default (1/125th of a second, which is nowhere near fast enough for bird shots). I forgot that that is also true of the focusing settings.

My first point of interest was the southern end of the lake. A couple of Pie-Billed Grebes were diving in the south-eastern corner. I still am amazed at how small these birds are. One of them headed off towards the center of the lake, but the other hung around and allowed me to get these two pictures.

I made my way around to the west side of the lake only to encounter a pair of American Coots that were swimming strongly for the south bank. I followed them and found myself back close to where I'd been photographing the grebes. I was struck by the realization that while coots are much larger than the grebes, they are nonetheless still small birds, much smaller than the mallards. My timing for the second shot here was perfect. The bird has just made the decision to dive under the water and had made its first movement towards that objective.

Again, I headed down the west side of the lake and immediately saw two smallish ducks (smaller than mallards) heading south with me. I hurried to get this shot of a pair of Northern Shovelers.

It seemed unfair to be ignoring the Mallards, particularly since I had been comparing the sizes of all the other birds with their size. One hove into view so I snapped a picture. I was hoping to get it an a grebe into the same shot but the grebe wouldn't cooperate. However, I also noticed some other ducks further out near the seagulls. After reviewing the picture when I returned home, I conclude that this is a picture of four young Hooded Mergansers. and now (Jan 22, 2013) with the benefit of reading the BNA site, I can see that these are four adult Hooded Mergansers in basic plumage. The two nearer the camera are males -- note the all-black bills and the (hard to see) yellow irises -- while the females have bills of orange and black.

I headed around the western spur of the lake where a small colony of House Sparrows hang out. I grabbed a picture of one of them. Then, standing on the bridge over the creek that runs off towards Route 36 I thought at first I was just looking at another in a bush, but it hopped out on to a branch and I realized it was a Northern Mockingbird.

While I had been looking west from the bridge admiring the mockingbird, behind me a pair (likely the same pair as earlier) of Northern Shovelers had come very close allowing me to get these shots.

As I made my way along the northern side of the lake, my attention was drawn to yet another grebe that appeared to be heading towards me on the bank. It came quite close and allowed me to get two quite good shots, albeit they were at a bad angle to the sun.

But then a strange thing happened. The bird headed off in the direction of the south-side of the north-eastern spur of the lake where there is a low wall rather than a bank. The path is very close to the water there and I anticipated getting a really good shot with a good sun angle. But when I got there, the bird dived under the water and never reappeared. I hope it came to no harm. Perhaps it went into the culvert that carries the water under the road. Or perhaps it merely eluded me in the rough waves. At one point while my attention was on the grebe, I happened to glance towards the southern end of the lake where I was astonished to see birds stretched across the whole width of the lake. My first thought was that it must be Canada Geese, but the birds in the picture look more like ducks than geese. After the grebe had disappeared, I heard the sound of many birds taking to the air. Looking west I was presented with the view you see here in the second image. Among these birds is a large number of gulls that had been floating on the lake all afternoon. The others were the ducks from the other image.
By way of full disclosure, some of the images in this post are presented in a different order from which they were taken. This was done to simplify the dialog.


Post a Comment

<< Home