There are times that I feel I should be photographing wildlife in places like Yosemite or Yellowstone National Parks. Although that would be nice, sometimes we can find great images in the most common of places. For example, there is a small mobile home park in Scott's Valley, CA that has a pond that is about 30m wide and no more than 100m long. This pond has surprised me on a number of occasions with many species of duck, herons, warblers, and sparrows to name a few. This morning the pond was very calm and as I walked up to the pond I saw this female Hooded Merganser with a great reflection in the water making a perfect mirrored image. I quickly started capturing images before the ripples would take my mirror away. I've learned that the first thing you should do after gearing up is to check your exposure. In this case I kept the aperture wide open, f/4.8, so I could increase the shutter speed, 1/800s, but still keep the ISO fairly low, ISO450 so I was set before I even got to the pond. I was very pleased with the results but it stresses the need to be ready at all times because you just never know when you will stumble into an opportune moment.
Mergansers are sometimes called "Fish Ducks" because their main diet is fish. There are three species in North America the fresh water Common Merganser that can be found in most parts of North American and nest in tree cavities and on the ground. The smallest is the Hooded Merganser, which can be found in fresh water throughout North America and also nests in tree cavities. The Red-breasted Merganser nests the farthest north of the three species and is more likely to spend its winter along the saltwater coastlines. Here are all three taken at Spring Lake except for the Red-breasted, which I took at Pillar Point home of the Maverick's surfing competition.
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