Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Return to Wasatch Lake, Part III

The swans Sonny and Cher (see yesterday's post) aren't the only wildlife attraction at Wasatch Lake. There are geese, ducks, a bevy of bird varieties (the proprietors are even kind enough to provide each guest a list of the various varieties of birds seen on the grounds to assist any bird-watchers). Eldie and Marsha Miller, caretakers of the grounds for the past 15 years, also have a couple dogs and pot-bellied pigs -- though they are very domesticated.

During my first visit in October 2010, the swans were inseparable, and the geese and ducks were plentiful but skittish. As noted in yesterday's post, Sonny and Cher were in nesting mode during this visit. The geese were a lot more skittish and unsociable, and on several occasions when I dared to get close to take pictures, they demonstrated where the expression "honked off" might have come from. I'm sure the honking was a rallying cry to get everyone together and in flight to move to another area of the lake, because that's pretty much what happened each time I came near. I succeeded in getting a few "in flight" photos, but not nearly as many or as high-quality as I had hoped. The lead-off photo above features a pair of geese cruising the mist-covered lake moments before sunrise on my first morning there, April 17. One of them is in typical honk mode (as always, click on the picture to see a larger version).

I saw very few ducks, but three in particular stuck together like glue (the word inseparable comes to mind again) and were extraordinarily docile. The trio approached me countless times, which tells me that in the time since I was there last -- when I never saw these ducks -- many guests must have been feeding them. The three ducks -- I called them the Three Ducksateers -- hovered and quacked both times I grilled my meal outdoors, and on the occasion or two when I left the main cabin door open (but screen door closed) while tending to the grill, one or more of the ducks would do a serious sniff around the bottom of the screen door frame, knowing there was something of interest inside ... if they could just figure out a way to either get in or get me to deliver it.

I didn't set aside any time to do strictly air surveillance for birds in flight shots; the flight pictures I did manage I got on spur of the moment. The one series of bird photographs I liked was shot in a backlight situation, using the rented Sigma 50-500mm "Bigma" lens and delivering me several interesting silhouettes.

To see all my images from my three-day visit to Wasatch Lake, see my Wasatch Lake Spring 2012 gallery.

Above and below: A goose in a more relaxed mode on an isthmus along the lakeshore.

Above: I managed to get four geese in the same frame; things were already stirring in the "human nearby" alert mode.
Above: I like that I got each of these geese facing different directions, even though one of them was giving me the "you're not welcome here" business.

Above and below: Not long after the two shots above were taken, the geese were in flight, headed toward the opposite end of the lake. These first four shots were taken April 16, the first afternoon I was there. 

Above: These geese were heading east at dawn on Tuesday, April 17. Because I panned to take these pictures, the mist covering the lake appears very creamy.

Above: My last stab at getting geese shots, on Wednesday afternoon, April 18, quickly evolved into another "human nearby" alert, and the honker above appears to be screaming right into the other one's face almost. These geese were in the beaver pond, which is on the east end of the lake and also east of the pedestrian bridge separating the lake from the pond.

Above and below: Not long after the honk alert in the previous image, the geese were in flight, westbound toward the opposite end of the lake. In the image above, they were almost directly above me; I was standing on the pedestrian bridge separating the lake from the beaver pond.

Above and next two below: The inseparable Three Ducksateers ... along the lakeshore (above) ... 

... approaching me outside my cabin ... 

... and taking over control of the door to my cabin. One of the ducks is already doing door snif surveillance.

Above and below: Another of the Ducksateers doing snif surveillance ... then pausing for a profile shot.

Above and below: This duck had just returned to land after a swim (above) before ... 

... shaking off the excess water ... or doing the twist. I wasn't sure which, but since there wasn't any music playing ... 

Above: Two of the Ducksateers kicking into either yoga or Pilates mode ... or simply trying to out-primp Sonny from the previous post's photo shoot.

Above: Not sure what breed of duck this is, but it spent a lot of alone time in the water and was not nearly as docile as the Ducksateers.

Above and below: My one good bird shot using the rented Sigma 50-500mm telephoto lens at its maximum focal length. A monochrome conversion above, a color version of the bird's wings in motion below (shutter was at 1/250 @ f/16).

Above: A simple birdwalk composition, which happened to take places just as Sonny the swan did a splash in the lake water just out of the picture.

Above: A bluegill I saw near my pier on my first night. I couldn't tell if it was trolling (its movement wasn't being affected by the waves) or had gone belly up.


  1. Your unidentified bird most closely resembles the American 'coot', which is not a duck in fact.

  2. Jacqueline ... thanks for this. I don't profess to be anything close to a birder. Following up on your info, I found the following at "Often mistaken for a duck, the pond-swimming American coot is actually more closely related to rails and moorhens and is a popular resident on ponds and in similar marshy habitats throughout the United States."

    That would seem to fit the description of what I photographed. Well, that and the pictures of the coots that I saw at that website and several others. Thanks again.