Cinnamons At Sunrise
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Waterfowl have finally begun to return in numbers to Sweetwater Wetlands, weeks behind schedule. There are still far fewer of these birds than there were a year ago, but there are enough of them to keep me fairly busy.
One species of duck that has shown up in decent numbers is Cinnamon Teal. These are among the most beautiful of ducks, in my opinion. The males of this species boast deep russet plumage with dark green accents and startling ruby red eyes. I photographed them the other day just at sunrise.
All nature photographers know this: there is a period every day at dawn and again at sunset where the light is at its best. The low sun at these times illuminates wildlife in ways that just aren’t conceivable in broad daylight. I was delighted the other morning with the effect caused by the rising sun and by the reflections on the water made by bordering reeds and cattails. It was as if my ducks had invaded an Abstract-Expressionist painting.
Cinnamon Teal are small ducks and a western species, living predominately west of the Rocky Mountains. They are dabblers, meaning that they don’t dive for their food. There is a year-round population in Arizona and I occasionally see these beautiful birds at the wetlands during the summer. But, in autumn, the population seems to be greatly augmented by migrants.
There is something really unique about these little ducks. In North America they can be found well down into Mexico and points south. One stops seeing them as one heads into South America. But, after thousands of miles of mountains, jungle, and high desert, one begins seeing them again! That’s correct, these ducks maintain populations in both North and South America, separated by thousands of miles. I’ve not read an explanation for this separation. I suppose it would be an interesting research project to determine, probably through DNA analysis, at what point in time the populations divided, and also to figure out why it happened.
Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f6.3, shutter speeds varied.