Photograph waterfowl now in eastern Pennsylvania for great action shots
A couple of friends I hunt with have constructed a blind for waterfowl hunting at the edge of a frequently flooded corner of a pasture belonging to a farmer who is also a good friend.
It is a modest structure by professional hunting standards, but it sure does the job for us whenever both water and waterfowl are present in that little corner.
I went to that blind alone this past Saturday morning, climbing through a side entrance and plopping my backside upon one the 5-gallon plastic buckets we leave there for seats.
The light of the morning was just beginning, revealing a clear sky. I was there for snow geese, but I had no replicas of the big, white fowl, only a hope that some might show that morning during their annual northward trek and pitch toward the frozen puddle in front of me, which they occasionally do at this spot.
After an hour of rays from a risen sun, I was able to feel that the air was warming, and that the day would be unseasonably mild, as forecast.
Early on a pair of Canada geese pitched to the ice and slid to a halt. The landing was highlighted by one of the pair slipping enough that its rump touched the frozen landing zone in a clumsy maneuver, a humorous sight for such a graceful bird.
Canada goose season has ended in my neck of the woods, so there was no rush to grab my shotgun as they landed, but I did have my camera, and realizing the birds were coming to this iced-over considerable puddle, I was plain stupid not to have grabbed the device and tried to photograph such an antic.
From that point on I had the camera outside its protective case and lying by my side, ready to snap a shot of something worth photographing.
The morning wore on, and in a corn stubble field a good 500 yards from my place of hiding, flock after flock of Canada geese, anywhere from 10 to 50 birds in each, landed in an ever growing patch of birds.
There was easily 500 dark geese feeding in that field when a flock of about 50 or so snow geese joined them. There was a tree line between us, but I still zoomed the camera to it fullest reach, and took some photos of the mixed grouping. Not great photos, but photos nonetheless.
An hour or so passed and the morning was now warm, well beyond a normal February day, and with no place to go I stayed and sat comfortably in the blind. By 10 o’clock another flock of snow geese had joined the feeding assembly, but this one was much larger, perhaps 500 or better. Their appearance was frustrating hunting-wise as they were well beyond what I could consider a shooting chance when they came, and the whole gathering just as frustrating photography-wise as they were too distant for good photos.
But as luck would have it, the Canadas began to leave the field in small groups and fly in my direction. To my astonishment, they locked their wings and landed on the ice, which was beginning to soften enough that many broke through. They wanted to drink the water, and seemingly knew their collective weight would open puddles, consisting of cold thirst quenchers.
Flock after flock came, and I snapped photo after photo of landing geese, drinking geese and resting geese, on a bright sunny day.
For those interested in photographing waterfowl in action, the springtime, when hunting seasons are closed and mating is near, is a perfect time. Not nearly as shy, and without the blast of a gun when they approach wherever they are heading, the busy birds afford close-ups of brilliant colors and flapping wings, with perhaps even a ripple of water as they land.
I now have a computer holding some crazy-good action photos. All it took was an early rise, a short walk and a love of watching wildlife. Anyone can do it.
Oh, by the way. The snow geese left as I did, all unharmed.