Where’s the Duck?

February 02, 2012


Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

The photo above showing curious alabaster footprints on the partially frozen Bear River in northern Utah was captured on December 3, 2011. I suspect there was a skiff of snow on the ice when a shorebird or duck wandered across it, ever so slightly crunching and compressing the snow underfoot. As a result, perhaps these webfoot shapes were slower to melt and/or sublimate than the thin, undisturbed snow layer that otherwise disappeared before I snapped this picture. If it had been taken today, Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada, based upon Germanic traditions involving other creatures entirely, one might wonder if the vanished bird had not wandered off in search of its shadow, pondering how long this winter might last.

The Bear River follows a serpentine course out of the Uinta Mountains, through a corner of Wyoming and a patch of Idaho, then back into Utah toward the dead sea known to most people as the Great Salt Lake. The delta, on the northeast corner of the lake, is one of the most important fresh-water stops for migratory birds along the central flyway from Canada to Mexico. Millions of birds died during avian botulism outbreaks in the area in the early twentieth century motivating the U.S. Federal government to create the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge here in 1928.

Photo Details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D60; Focal Length: 240.0mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Exposure Time: 0.0020 s (1/500); ISO equiv: 100; Software: QuickTime 7.6.4.