I wanted to photograph the Michigan lighthouses covered in ice, so I planned a January trip to Michigan. I also hoped to see long-tailed ducks; I checked E Bird every day and saw that the ducks were reported in the lighthouse canals where I would be going.
The lighthouse photos were disappointing because the winter wasn't cold enough to form ice along the Michigan shore.
At the Holland lighthouse I spotted long-tailed ducks in the entrance to the canal. I saw fishermen walk to the end of the narrow, icy pier. I followed them wearing ice cleats and carrying a tripod and 600mm lens. I got some photos of the ducks and while I was waiting and hoping they'd swim closer, a boat came through the canal. I watched the ducks fly away, out of sight.
I went back to the car, got a landscape lens and tripod. I stood on the pier close to the lighthouse; and while I was waiting for a long exposure to finish I saw two long-tailed ducks on the other side of a small building on the pier. Back to the car again to switch lenses and tripods. I hid behind the building on the pier and set up my rig, then moved to the front of the building to, hopefully get some photos. When I set the rig down, a railing on the pier was at the same height as the lens and blocked my view of the ducks. No! I moved quickly to an unobstructed spot; and as the ducks started to swim away I got some photos.