As a nature and wildlife photographer, I am constantly drawn to the “challenging” opportunities that come with photographing wildlife. Spring is my favorite time of year in Northeast Iowa, the ice begins to melt on the Mississippi river, daylight becomes longer, and everything from wildlife to flora begin to come back to life.
The annual waterfowl migration came into full swing early with the river opening up due to a mild winter. Large flocks of waterfowl make their way to the river before finishing the migration north. The first arrivals to the area are: common goldeneyes, common mergansers, and buffleheads. This can even be when ice is still on the river. You might see them scrounging for food in areas of open water around the dams or power plants. Once the river opens up all the way and the marshes are ice free, even more waterfowl species arrive. There can be large flocks of several different types of waterfowl; from divers to dabblers, and ducks of all different colors.
This year I decided it was time to try some waterfowl photography. First, I made a trip to the store to buy some camo. From previous experience, I have found that waterfowl are very skittish and quick to take flight. With my camera and all dressed in camo, it was time to find some locations to sit and wait for waterfowl to come to me.
Male Common Merganser
Male and Female Common Goldeneye
Male Northern Shoveler
Male Blue-winged Teal
Female and Male Lesser Scaup
Female and Male Canvasback
Male Green-winged teal
Here are some of the best places to see waterfowl locally, some you can walk and some you can drive and look from the car. Enjoy!
Brownsville, MN Upper Mississippi River Overlook
New Albin, IA Pool Slough: Army Road
Harpers Ferry, IA Red Oak Road: There is a parking area over the railroad tracks and a gravel walk down to main channel
Ferryville and Lynxville, WI: Overlooks
Prairie du Chien, Wi: St. Feriole Island
Dubuque, IA: Mud Lake Park
Dubuque, IA: John Deere Marsh (Riverside Road), there is a gravel walking path
Sumner, IA: Sweet Marsh State Wildlife Management Area