One of the beauties of spending time in nature is that there is always something new to notice and appreciate, and the zoom lens of my camera has become a way to look more closely for the visual gems I might have previously missed.
Among the thousands of wintering white geese whose company I seek out every winter are a few that have different coloring—dark bodies and necks instead of being white. While this pattern is officially called a dark morph, I prefer the common term of blue goose. I’ve been lucky to spot a few over the years.
Although I can never see too many birds, with my camera in hand I’ve learned it is possible to take too many photos of them. With dozens of similar images of the same species, I decided I didn’t want to sit at my computer and sort through dozens more that aren’t particularly distinctive. For example, seeing northern pintails inspires awe every single time because they are stunning, but I already have quite a collection of pintail photos, including a previous blog post about them.
So I was surprised that when I was looking at yet another beautiful pintail preening, he revealed bright green and orange feathers on his wing that I had never noticed. That was definitely worth a new photo.
In addition to the cinnamon teal drake’s color of his feathers, he has red eyes. Like many duck species, the female has less flashy coloring for camouflage when nesting. It was only when looking closely at my photos that I realized that even her eyes are adapted to blend in. Unlike the striking crimson of her mate, hers are black.
I had observed cinnamon teals many times before I noticed the drake’s bright blue feathers that were revealed when he was preening.
The green on the head of the green-winged teal is more obvious than what that species is named for, unless the duck is in the right position to see it.
I was staring at a group of green-winged teals when another birder pointed out one individual that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. She showed me the Eurasian green-winged teal that was swimming with the others, a subspecies I had never heard of.
The Eurasian duck has a white outline around the green cheek patch and instead of having a vertical white stripe on his shoulder like the other teal, he has a less visible horizontal stripe on his lower wing.
Part of what keeps me returning over and over to familiar places, and watching birds I’ve seen before, is that I know I will have a different experience every time. Inevitably, nature offers unexpected moments of wonder, and I don’t want to miss them.