We hadn’t been birding in a while because of miserable weather, so we were anxious to get out last weekend and see the ducks and geese that take up residence on Maryland’s eastern shore every winter.
We could hear the Canadian Geese as we approached the Wye Island refuge just off the Chesapeake Bay — literally thousands of them filled waterways and fields. There were also supposed to be lots of Black Ducks, Mallards, Tundra Swans and Buffleheads.
Then we turned a corner and saw two or three dozen Canvasbacks visible through the marsh grass in an expanse of salt water a few yards away. We pulled off the road in a rush. I went to the back of the car to set up my camera while Beverly grabbed her binoculars.
Luckily, a thick wedge of grasses hid us as we crept up. It was windy and overcast so the light wasn’t favorable, but it looked like we could get closer than we’d ever been to this large of a flock.
I started shooting before there was even a clear view: You never know when they’ll take flight, so I wanted to be ready. Beverly headed one way and I went the other as we gradually moved to the edge of the marsh for a direct look.
Even as we got close, the ducks didn’t seem fazed. The waves kicked up in the wind, but they held their places as if they wanted to be sure we got a nice photo. I finally found a break in the reeds and managed a full look at our quarry. The realization hit me.