Saturday, 19 February 2011

Smew drake

A drake Smew (Mergellus albellus/Nonnetje) with its ‘cracked ice’ appearance is unmistakable. This photo was taken on a grey, cold, and windy day near the IJsselmeer, an important wintering area for this species, close to our capital Amsterdam. The weather doesn’t seem to bother these cute but tough and brave ducks. But for me it is a different story. After a few hours of waiting, lying in an uncomfortable position on a few wooden planks at the shoreline under a camouflage net, every muscle of my body protested (and I did not know I had so many of them).
Smew breeds in the northern taiga (in trees!) of Europe and Asia. The Smew’s bill has a hooked tip and serrated edges (typical for mergansers), which help it catch fish when it dives for them.

* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/640s, +0.7 stop; from beanbag.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine sunrise

The weather prediction yesterday at the 8 o’clock evening news: “Tomorrow rain, in the south-east (that’s where I live) may be a scarce clear period in early morning”. Such an approaching front offers good chances for nice sunrises. Some time ago I re-discovered a promising patch of heath with a few fens very close to my home, viz. “Kamerven” near Gerwen. So, off I went in early morning, and this was what I saw. A distant singing Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus/Grote Lijster) and the wheeling “krrück, krrück, krrück, … kliiii-eh” sound of the Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius/Zwarte Specht) in the woods at the horizon heralded spring.

* Canon EOS 20D with 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-200, f9, 1/60s, +0.3 stop; hand held with polarization filter and 2 stop ND gradient filter.