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More Marin County Birds; Eclipse Plumage

27 September, 2007

     On the assumption that some migrants from the north would be entering the Marin County air-and-water space, I visited one of my standard bird-imaging locations, the Las Gallinas Sanitary Ponds. Two duck species seem to be entering eclipse plumage. These ponds contain the purified effluent from a large sewage-processing plant and seem to be very attractive to water birds and other birds that enjoy the brush in the area. The ponds are fairly large, so most of the birds are quite far away most of the time. I used my 500mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x extender, for a net 700mm focal length on my 1.3x crop Canon 1D mkII body. Even with this reach, several of the images below are 100% crops. Several images, please scroll down.

These 2 mallards are showing off their usual gaudy plumage. Below, a gadwall in eclipse plumage, the drab feathers that appear after the spring feathers molt and before the next breeding season's feathers appear. Looks a bit frowsy around the head but still has a well-defined bar on his wing. 

Below, a pair of northern pintails, also in eclipse plumage. Click HERE for a male pintail in breeding plumage. Missed the focus a bit on this one, but I like the blue racing stripes on these birds' bills.

A flock of dowitchers on the far side of one pond put on a synchronized  aerobatics demonstration. There were 20 or 30 more in the flock.

And below, a northern shoveler. Not the most glamorous duck!

Several northern harriers were hunting in a field next to the ponds:

Click HERE for additional harrier images. Below, a northern harrier butt shot, but I liked the pattern on the wings and tail:

And some distance away, high on a wire, a black phoebe:

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