Wildlife Photography in Ottawa - Mud Lake Magic

by Rudy Pohl
August 20, 2014


I have been an enthusiastic amateur photographer since 1970 and I've been an avid nature lover since before then.  Yet, only since 2012 have I married these two loves into one pursuit resulting in my new-found passion of wildlife and nature photography.


Green Heron Portrait, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Rudy Pohl ©


Photo 1 -  Green Heron Portrait, Mud Lake, Ottawa



Wildlife treasures close to home

For a variety of reasons it has not been possible for me to travel far from home to do wildlife photography, so Arctic excursions, trips to Yellowstone, the Florida Everglades, or the Canadian Rockies have been out of the picture for me. As a result, I've been forced to make due with whatever creatures and critters nature supplies right here in and around the nation's capital. At first I didn't have very high expectations, but was I in for a pleasant surprise when I was introduced to Mud Lake!



Photo 2   -  Great Blue Heron, Mud Lake, Ottawa. 

Mud Lake - Ottawa's most beloved natural treasure

Mud Lake is a large, shallow, nutrient-rich pond located in the west end of Ottawa in the Britannia area bordering on the Ottawa River.  Size-wise, this picturesque body of water makes up the lion's share of the "Britannia Conservation Area", a 79-hectare nature preserve consisting of woodland, riparian, wetland and upland habitats. Mud Lake is one of Ottawa's best known and most beloved natural treasures, known especially for its water birds, and people come from all over the city, the province and the country to visit and enjoy its flora and fauna. Southern Ontario has its Point Peele and Alberta has its Banff,  but Ottawa has Mud Lake and we're very glad to say so!



Mallard Ducklings, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Rudy Pohl ©


Photo 3   - Mallard Ducklings, Mud Lake, Ottawa

Mud lake - a waterfowl haven

While there are many kinds of birds and animals found there, among my favourite subjects to photograph at Mud Lake are the waterfowl. I love watching and photographing all kinds of waterfowl, but I especially like Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Great Blue Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, and I get very excited about Green Herons. I also like Belted Kingfishers. Mud Lake has all these wonderful birds from early Spring through Fall. It surely is a waterfowl lovers paradise.


Belted King Fisher, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Rudy Pohl ©


Photo 4 - Belted King Fisher, Mud Lake, Ottawa


My preferred method - Hiding in the bushes

After my first year of wildlife photography, most of which was at Mud Lake, I upgraded my camera to a Nikon D7100 and I bought a pro-grade wildlife lens, the Nikon 300/F4, which produces razor sharp images and is perfect for resolving fine feather detail and giving lovely bokeh. It's one drawback is that it has no anti-vibration feature, so for high quality shots a tripod is mandatory for most situations. At first I didn't like the apparent loss of my freedom to roam at will, but I quickly adapted and adjusted my technique and now I wouldn't have it any other way. My favourite method of photographing these ultra-shy water birds is hiding and waiting in the bushes by the water's edge, with my camera tripod-mounted, and seated on a portable 3-legged collapsible stool. It's a perfect set up and allows me to be out there for hours!



Photo 5 -  Wood Duck Male Portrait, Mud Lake, Ottawa


Wood Duck Male, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Rudy Pohl ©


Photo 6 -  Wood Duck Male, Mud Lake, Ottawa



Photo 7 - Black Crowned Night Heron, Mud Lake, Ottawa




Rudy Pohl portrait
Rudy Pohl is an avid amateur wildlife and nature photographer living in Ottawa, Ontario. Rudy is currently shooting with a Nikon D7100 and favours using a Nikon 300mm F4 lens with and without a 1.4x extender.



Contact info:

Website: www.rudypohl.com
Flickr Gallery: www.flickr.com/photos/rudypohl/
Email: rudypohl@gmail.com







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