Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is one of my most sought after subjects…in that I have, to date, not gotten a completely satisfying image of one. Part of the problem is that 1) I only reliably see them in Florida or New Mexico, 2) I am only in FL and NM a few times a year, always the same weeks, and the Hoodies may or may not be there then, 3) they are never close enough, 4) the brilliant white markings on the jet black body are almost impossible to expose for, and 5) even the yellow eye is so intense against the black that it often burns out.

I went to Viera Wetlands specifically for Hooded Merganser. I knew there would be a lot of bonus birds (though I did not expect the treasures I actually found), but it was the reported Hoodeds, and some images my friend Roy Halpen had taken there a year ago, that inspired me to spend the morning of my flight home there.

It took me three loops of the dike roads to find this guy. The distance was right. The light was a bit more intense than I would have liked by that time of day. And he never did flare his head crest all the way out, but this is my best Hooded Merganser shot so far. Softer light would have maybe allowed me to maintain some feather detail in the crest, but then I would have lost the drama of the reeds and their reflections, and the highlighted ripples. All in all, pretty good okay. I still hope for a better shot someday…but I am pretty happy with this.

Sony DSC N1 behind the eyepiece of a Zeiss Diascope 85FL. Equiv. combined focal length approximately 3000mm. F5.0 @ 1/250th @ ISO 64. -.7 EV exposure compensation. Selective spot focus placed on eye.

From the Space Coast Birding Gallery.


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