Green-winged Teal

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Last Saturday it wasn’t supposed to rain until evening but I woke up to a torrent from the sky. I went back to bed—a rare treat for me. After it finally quit raining, the sky was cloudy but still kind of bright in that special way that saturates all of the colors nature has to offer. I decided to head to Forest Park, something I rarely do in the middle of the day. Unless you like being around a lot of people, Forest Park is best enjoyed the first couple of hours of the morning when only the serious joggers are about. My goal was to find the kestrel I had photographed a week earlier. I was hoping for some even nicer shots of Missouri’s smallest raptor.

Upon arrival, the kestrel was AWOL, no surprise, but I ran across three female green-winged teal in a cattail marsh, one of the areas that my colleagues at Missouri Department of Conservation helped develop. I whispered to myself that it sure would be nice if one of the tiny ducks was a drake because I’d never made a nice photo of one. A few minutes later, I saw a flash of green in the cattails and a closer look revealed a drake green-winged teal. Bingo! I sat on the ground at the edge of the marsh for over an hour, waiting for the drake to come out of hiding. I thought, why give up as I had nowhere special to be and I was downright comfortable sitting in the partial sun on my little camo cushion from Walmart. I even took a nap in the second hour, still waiting for the teal to make an appearance. Several people stopped for a chat, as always in Forest Park, and everybody was in a good mood due to the nice break in the weather.

Finally, after about an hour and a half the gorgeous drake started easing out of the cattails in my line of focal fire, so to speak, and I was ready for action. I knew he would be very close so I dialed in a tight aperture to gain more depth of field as he closed on my position. Soon, I had dozens of images and I was confident that at least a few of them would be nice representations of the stunning little duck. After about an hour more of shooting and watching, I packed up and headed toward my truck, stopping to check on the kestrel again.

I didn’t hesitate to include a bonus image this week because it would have been too hard to pick just one shot. The second image shows the little guy on a log where he spent some nap time after his little jaunt around the marsh.DJB_FP_2013_0303 Click on image to enlarge; back arrow to return

The green-winged teal is a visual stand-out, even among the likes of wood ducks, pintails, and mallards. I have more than one friend who considers the green-winged teal Missouri’s most beautiful duck. You don’t see too many animals with a combo of chestnut and forest green on their heads! Over the years, I’ve found green wings nearly impossible to photograph due to their tiny size and their propensity to spend all of their time in vegetation, gorging on seeds, invertebrates and other morsels. It sure was a joy to finally photograph the green-winged teal drake that afternoon at Forest Park. I also enjoyed checking another nemesis species off my list.

Thanks for Looking!


Green-winged Teal:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC II; 1/1600 @ f/6.3; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

Green-winged Teal on Log:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC II; 1/1000 @ f/7.1; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

10 comments on “Green-winged Teal”

  1. That’s a lot of waiting but what a gorgeous photo. Feels like we’re right in the water with it.

  2. Lovely photo of the Green-winged Teal. The chestnut and forest green combo is stunning. The kestrel is sometimes hard to pin down.

    • Thanks Jo Ann. I’m looking forward to sharing the kestrel next week or the week after. Take care.

  3. All decked out in St. Paddy’s day head gear – wonderful shots! Kev


  4. What a beauty this one is!When I start heading out to Forest Park early in the morning (and when I have more than a short interval to spare!) I’ll look out for this guy…but if you’ve had so much difficulty spotting him, I guess I’m just happy to have met him on your blog 🙂

  5. Thank’s Danny for sending me that beautiful shot of that Green winged Teal. He sure is decked out for the St. Patrick’s Day parade.


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