Sunday, September 30, 2012


Blue Winged Teal are really fast in flight.  They take off fast and they land just as fast.  Everything is done at hyper speed.  They are also gorgeous to see in flight.  When they all turn simultaneously - the sun reflects off their under wings and the blue primary's show brilliant blue color.  I was cruising on the lower lake when I spotted a large number of teal at the waters edge.  I thought to myself that when in the air they would cover all areas of the sky and different back lit situations would present themselves.  It would be a good exercise in photography to try and adjust to all the changing back lighted situations.  I soon found out that its impossible to make camera changes fast enough to capture these flying rockets.  These ducks are very wild.  I like that. They are totally intolerant and distrusting of man.

All I had to do was cut the boat toward them at a slow speed.  I knew they would fly quickly.  They instantly became agitated even before the boat  proceeded in their direction.  All I had to do was turn the vessel toward them and they were off at once.

They fly in such close proximity of each other its a wonder they don't collide.  I imagined flying with them, in that crowd, and looking left and right at the birds beside me, their eyes wide and seeing all, judging distances and maneuvering here and there to avoid touching the birds to the left and right.  I can see the wind fluffing the plumage on their throats and hear the whipping of their wings as they beat frantically to achieve the speed they are known for.  The tips of their primary feathers move up and down adjusting horizontal position of the bird as tail feathers lift and lower to control climb and decent as desired.  Mouths open gathering air to feed hungry lungs that power muscles that control fast beating wings.

We cut away from the shoreline and gain altitude.  I somehow know exactly what to do without thinking.  The birds beside me angle their bodies up, climbing higher and higher and I am with them.  We all turn as one and fly up into the sky - the endless sky.

Freedom knows no boundaries up here with my new friends.  We are unfettered and unchained from the gravity that binds mortal man to the earth.  We are totally free!
We circled out over the river ever climbing as one - friends gathered together in flight simply for the exhilaration of it.

They uttered not a sound.  Only that whipping noise could be heard.  The bird in front of me tilted the back of his wings and he slowed as if applying brakes.  The bird above him shot forward.  He applied power to his wings an instantly caught up and flew above the bird he had previously been beneath.  Amazing perfection in flight.

Everything looked small below.  I couldn't recognize anything that would otherwise be familiar if I were on the ground.  The group leveled off and flew straight for a short time.  Then, as one, they all turned in unison - and so did I.

We flew with total trust in each other's skills.  There was no doubt in everyone's ability.  We banked right and the sun was at our backs and on we went enjoying the thrill of being alive.

These guys did everything precisely at the same time as if they were governed by some secret communal computer.  We were heading down toward the water at full speed.  The expectation of the fast slow down required to make a safe landing was thrilling enough to cause loss of consciousness if I was not careful.  We skimmed over the surface as one at full speed.  

 Wings were tilted back to gather air and brake forward motion.  All performed the  action as one.  The speed slowed and extended feet touched down on water, the bodies gently fell after - and we all were down.  It was just a normal moment for all of them.  The time spent with these friends made me appreciate life just a little more and to value the precious gift of wildlife like never before.