“Duck, duck, goose at Radnor Lake” by Robin Conover
Canon EOS 50D, 70-200 mm, 2.8 L series lens,
Bogen tripod, ISO 100, ƒ5.0 at 1/500 sec.
Winter is a season that to photographers can be as difficult as it is rewarding. Single-digit temperatures can make getting up and out in time for sunrise a somewhat harrowing experience. The reward, however, can be an image nature gives you to experience and enjoy and the knowledge that you may be the only one witnessing it.
Such was a morning about five years ago. Temperatures in Nashville had been in the single digits for nearly a week. Knowing there was a chance that Radnor Lake might be frozen over, I decided to drag myself out of my warm bed on a Saturday morning, put on multiple layers of clothing and check it out.
Sunrise was somewhat unremarkable, and I was beginning to doubt my decision when I noticed some activity in the middle of the lake. A sheet of ice covered nearly the entire lake, which is a rare occurrence at this natural area. Newly fallen snow revealed otter tracks leading to a small opening in the ice. I followed the Lake Trail, which I knew would provide a better vantage point, and set up my tripod.
A variety of waterfowl had settled on the ice around the only open water on the lake. This literally made them sitting ducks for the otters. I had only seen otter tracks to this point and didn’t know how old the tracks were. To be honest, I figured I had missed them but could still photograph the ducks and geese. The combination of sun hitting the ice and creating some fog with the background still in shadow might make a nice image, I thought.
In just a few minutes, the scene became much more active as an otter popped up onto the ice … and then another, and then two more. Working together, they began to flush the waterfowl, scampering back and forth trying to catch one or two napping. To the otters’ dismay, they struck out. To my delight, I had captured the action-packed scene.