Ducks are one of my favorite photography subjects. Hooded Mergansers are one of my favorite ducks. So I was excited to find several of these interesting ducks on New Years Day for a Hooded Merganser photo shoot. Below are several shots from that rare Seattle area winter sunny day.
These shy little ducks with great hairdos can be a challenge to photograph. If they see or hear you coming they swim away in a hurry, and worse, if you startle them they may fly away. (I try not to startle birds when I’m photographing them as I don’t want to negatively affect their behavior.) This means sneaking up slowly and quietly and trying to use some of the foliage around the lake or pond for cover.
I reliably find Hooded Mergansers in the winter in some former water hazards at an old golf course in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. As a golfer I enjoyed getting in a quick 9 holes at Ballinger Lake Golf Course. Now that the course has become Ballinger Lake Park I go there with my camera to look for non-golf birdies like my favorite Hooded Mergansers.
One shot I have yet to get is of a Hooded Merganser in flight. One of my wildlife photography goals for the winter is to stake out these ponds from the surrounding grass to see if I can get that shot for my portfolio.
The photo above is one of my favorites from the afternoon. The Merganser was shaking itself off after diving in the pond and from this angle you get an interesting perspective of a Hooded Merganser’s skinny head and bill.