This article features 15 consecutive handheld Pro Capture H images of a merganser courtship display, captured during a recent visit to LaSalle Park. Fortunately I had already set a practice session objective for myself that day which was to photograph everything using Pro Capture H… so I was ready for this opportunity.
NOTE: This article has been updated based on bird behaviour information provided by one of our readers, Glen Fox. Our thanks to Glen!
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
This was the closest I’ve ever been to mergansers. Typically they tend to be a bit skittish. For whatever reason the birds were in closer to the shoreline than usual and didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence.
I had never viewed this merganser behaviour before so when I got home and did a bit of research. The reference I found indicated that the opening of the bill and lowering of the neck and head is a merganser threat display. While I originally misidentified the behaviour illustrated in this article as a threat display, one of our readers, Glen Fox, provided detailed documentation identifying this as courtship behaviour.
Before capturing these images I turned the Frame Limiter off on my E-M1X so my image run would continue after I fully depressed my shutter release. I shot at 60 frames-per-second which is my standard approach when using Pro Capture H. The 15 consecutive frames in this article represent a total of 1/4 second of merganser threat display motion time.
There is one additional image at the very end of this posting that shows an interaction between a couple of mergansers. I’m not sure if this was connected to the courtship display illustrated in this article.
One of the things that I absolutely love about my Olympus/OM System camera gear is the Pro Capture technology. It allows a photographer to confidently and reliably capture behavioural moments like this one. Let’s have a look at the next 11 photographs from this image run.
For those of us who enjoy bird photography having Pro Capture H technology at our fingertips significantly expands our photographic potential. I love being able to capture subtle differences in body, neck and head positions when using Pro Capture H at 60 frames-per-second. If my memory serves the new OM-1 takes this up a notch with 120 fps capability.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,145 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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