Common Merganser Male and Female, Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Colorado
The refuge needs duck pictures and I need to focus on waterfowl, something other than eagles and bison. With that in mind, and the lakes no longer entombed in ice, I went out early yesterday to set up my blind on Lake Derby. Derby is maybe 1/2 mile across and 3/4 mile long; egg-shaped and shallow, with a dam at the west end and the eagle roost in the cottonwoods to the east. I watched juvenile bald eagles fire off from the roost before dawn as the lake reflected scarlet clouds. One of the eagles landed across the little bay where I was set up, deterring ducks from entering the bay. Every so often, an eagle would buzz the ducks in the middle of the lake and they would pop from the water like corn. Redheads, goldeneye, common and hooded mergansers, cinammon and blue teal, coots, and bufflehead were flying in squadrons and using most of the lake – except where I was at. I wasn’t making any duck pictures, but had a pleasant time observing the adolescent eagle preening, yawning, and rotating his head to see every passing thing. He never even moved when I emerged from the blind, ready to relocate for the next duck mission.
Redhead Ducks In Flight, Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Colorado
I wrapped everything up and made an epic haul to the 4Runner with camera bag, chair, big Gitzo, and blind; then went around to the other side to set up on a small peninsula of rip-rap that juts out from a shallow bay. I pulled the blind out like 50 times before, then calamity struck! My right index finger got caught in the spring-loaded wall and I knew it wasn’t good. Plus it hurt like a son of a bitch! Releasing the spring tension released my finger, with a gnarly, almost completely severed tip. I bled all over the place and put on a black glove to capture blood while finishing the set up. A cleanup at the refuge and trip to see Doc Jeffers took care of things – four stitches reattached my finger. I’ve played it back and don’t really know how my finger got wedged in the spring, but I’m sure glad it wasn’t a much bigger chunk. Now I’m a middle finger photographer and typist for awhile.
I went back today and made the merganser image. Some days I wish I had just stayed in bed – but how do you know which days?