Just Below The Surface by Todd Henson

Just Below the Surface

Just below the surface of a small lake a young turtle follows her mother towards a pair of koi. The koi appear to pay as little attention to the turtles as do the turtles to the koi. Each group swims in their own world, though one they share.

The young turtle’s only thoughts are of its mother. When the mother stops moving forward the small turtle moves around to face its mother, nose to nose, moving both front legs forward as if to hug its mother.

The koi continue slowly gliding through the water, their bodies creating beautiful curves. They very likely are waiting for food from those of us above.

Two different worlds, above and below, and yet all still part of the same. These are my thoughts as I watch these wonderful creatures just below the surface.


Hooded Merganser Flying Low Over Water by Todd Henson

A male Hooded Merganser flying low over water.

In early Spring Hooded Mergansers  become more active in the wetlands, performing fascinating displays, and beginning their nesting. They, along with Wood Ducks, sometimes use nesting boxes placed in various locations throughout the wetlands.

I love photographing Hooded Mergansers while they are in the water, especially when they are performing courtship displays. They are quite impressive when they fully raise their crest, especially the male, with a bright white crest surrounded by black.

I also enjoy photographing them when in flight. Photographing birds in flight is always a challenge, especially with fast flying birds such as ducks. It takes lots of practice!

I was fortunate this day to watch and photograph as a Hooded Merganser pair took flight from the water. I missed most of the shots, but in this one I captured the male in focus. I wish I had framed the shot a little lower to include the entire reflection of the merganser, but I’m pleased to have captured it at all.

When visiting wetlands locations keep your eyes open for ducks or other wading birds. You may be given an opportunity to see (and practice photographing) birds in flight.


Singing Red-winged Blackbird by Todd Henson

Image of a singing Red-winged Blackbird in a wetlands environment. Click to see a larger view.

Early Spring is a wonderful time to observe Red-winged Blackbirds in wetlands environments. The males hop atop any tall perch, puff up their chests, and sing, looking to attract a mate.

This post includes a sequence of 12 images of a male Red-winged Blackbird as it sings atop its perch. The entire sequence took place in less than 2 seconds. In it you can see the bird puffing itself up, then lifting its head and singing. Click on the image below to cycle through the sequence.

Look closely and you will also see the bird’s nictitating membrane in several of the frames. This is an extra eye lid that closes over the eye while their main eye lid is still open. It can help keep the eye clean and offers some extra protection. See my post about nictitating membranes for more examples.

Red-winged Blackbird with eye fully open. Click the image for a larger view.

Red-winged Blackbird with nictitating membrane covering its eye. Click the image for a larger view.

Next time you’re out and about in a wetlands environment keep your eyes open for red-winged blackbirds (if they happen to pass through your area). And watch their eyes very closely. Perhaps you’ll see their nictitating membrane.

Camera Geekery

This sequence is an example of one of the benefits of some of today’s cameras: a high frame rate. This sequence was shot with a Nikon D500, which can shoot up to 10 frames per second. Some cameras support even higher frame rates.

This is a great benefit when photographing wildlife, sports, or any other fast moving action. It helps capture extra moments during peak action. Just be prepared to sort through a LOT of photographs after you’ve transferred them to your computer.

Below are some cameras with high frame rates (measured in frames per second, or fps), at different price points. The only one I’ve used is the Nikon D500.

The links below are affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you

Nikon D5 - 14 fps

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II - 16 fps

Nikon D500 - 10 fps

Canon 7D Mark II - 10 fps

Nikon D7500 - 8 fps

Canon EOS 70D - 7 fps