One of my favorite things to do is paddle up a slow-moving river as far as I can against the current, then drift back, barely paddling except to steer. Being quiet and peaceful and just letting things come to me.
Here are a few of those on a recent float down the Wisconsin from upstream to my dock.
First an Eastern Kingbird. Don’t let it fool you – it could fly quite well. This one and a sibling were flitting around near the nest, but not leaving the area or flying too high, a thing Kingbirds seem to do a lot. The bonus was that the nest is only around 6 feet over the water and so I could get quite close. When the wind and current allowed that is. Why is it the kayak can never drift where I want it to? Lol.
Processing that one was a bit of a challenge and I used all the Photoshop skills I possess (like six) to do the best I could with the harsh, direct sun. First I had to try to mask the bird from the background. Try as I might, a hard, marching-ants type selector tool wasn’t working. It would come too close into the bird’s head an I lost a ton of detail there. After trying various methods to finesse the edge, I gave up and used the Quick Mask tool instead. I think that gets overlooked a lot, but I found it the best way to get the edge right and now there is detail in the bird. What I wanted to do was further blur the background since it is so jangly and distracting. Using two layers, one to blur and one to mask, I think I helped the shot quite a bit. I really like that you can see the brown of the bird’s iris in this one. Most of the time they are dark pools. It was pretty vocal, but I think in this shot it was basically panting in the heat. I drifted away and let them be. Wonderful little flycatchers!
This next shot isn’t great, but borders on the acceptable. It was just too cute not to try to improve. A row of hooded merganser babies!
I had about 8 seconds to get this before mom herded them away. She’s lurking somewhere behind them. I just had a chance to lift the camera, zoom the lens and take two shots. Two. The focus isn’t perfect, but it’s close. What a fuzzy lot they are at this stage. Soon they were following mom through the hanging foliage and away.
This next one was one of three does I saw come to lie down on the edge of the water. I’ve never seen this behavior before even on hotter days on the water so it was so stunning and a real treat.
It’s amazing sometimes how close some animals will let you get in a kayak. Not always, it’s not invisible, but these girls were all unfazed by my boat or a water skier that came near. None were injured or distressed in any way – just hot, tired and tormented by flies. All were nursing mothers, but the fawns were not with them. Probably still too little to tag along with mom all day, especially in temperatures over 80 degrees F. Most likely tucked into some shade nearby.
The third deer wasn’t in a great position for a photo (too many branches in front of her), so I didn’t take one. Just watched her find a little rest on a hot day. We all need that from time to time.