Winter at Spring Canyon

Spring Canyon is my favorite place to take pictures in Hutchinson County for several reasons.  It’s easy to get to and even in the summer it’s not crowded in the early morning.  It well protected from winds from the southwest (our prevailing wind source in the summer) and the north (prevailing wind source in the winter) by the Sanford Dam and the canyon walls.  At sunrise the light from the east-south-east lights up the whole area beautifully and the reflections off of the canyon walls give the small ponds a wide range of color from copper to silver to gold to green.  Add the reflection of our nearly always cloudless sky and the oranges and reds and purples of the occasional cloudy morning along with the long deep shadows cast by the bluffs and you get an amazing palette to work with.  The only problem is that this year there aren’t that many wintering birds there, perhaps there isn’t much to eat in the canyon this year.  Most of the waterfowl are over the dam at the main lake (Meredith) and the photos are just not as good over there.  The distances are greater,  the sun is generally behind the subjects, and the wind is stronger.

Here are a few photos that I’ve gotten at Spring Canyon in the last few weeks.  The waterfowl are in their breeding colors now and are beautiful.

A female Canvasbackcanvas-back-1024x597

A Redhead pair.  The male is the darker bird farther back.


A couple of male Ring-necked Ducks.  I think it is strange that the name reflects an almost invisible ring around the  base of the neck instead of that amazing tri-colored bill.  You can sort of see the ring on the duck in the rear–it’s a lighter reddish brown color where the neck joins the body of the bird.


Two male and two female Lesser Scaups.  The males are the darker ones.  The females have a bright white area around the bill this time of year.


A female Canvasback, male and female Redheads, Male and 2 female Lesser Scaups on their morning promenade.


And they’re off.  Two Redheads, a Ring-necked Duck, and a Female Lesser Scaup take flight after a couple let their yapping little dog loose near the pond.  Guess they missed the No Pets sign at the Canyon entrance.



Redhead and a Lesser Scaup



More in the galleries.

3 thoughts on “Winter at Spring Canyon

  1. Your last photo struck a chord, I see people turn their dogs loose often in areas where they are supposed to be on a leash. I feel for the birds because they are disturbed and end up wasting valuable energy due to human intrusion. The water color in the rest of the images is delightful, I can see why you like going there.


    • I’m sure these folks just missed the sign and thought that their little dog was just having fun, but he cleared the little pond of a couple of dozen birds that I had been watching for 30 minutes or so, waiting for them to come closer to where I was sitting.

      Irresponsible pet owners are a plague where I live. My house is not inside any town limits and there are no pet laws in the county. People dump their pets out here and as a result we have packs of dogs and feral cats everywhere.


      • Mark, I go to places where people dump their animals and it is very sad to see them, know they are killing birds and animals and that the domestic animals themselves suffer because of lack of food, extreme weather and because they can be killed by cars.

        I had a man get very angry with me in Florida when I told him he was not supposed to have his full-sized Poodle on the beach, it was nesting season for shorebirds plus there is a large sign there saying “No dogs”. The park supervisor is a friend of mine and I had his number in my cell so I called Jim, he was there in less than 5 minutes and escorted the man and his dog off of the beach.

        Now I try to have the number to the office of the places I go to that have managers.


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