One of the most difficult things to master (and I’ve yet to master this) in wildlife photography is remembering to check the background before taking the shot. Its the one point that Moose Peterson stresses in his book Moose Peterson’s Guide to Wildlife Photography and continues to stress on his recent blog posts.
This is especially difficult in photographing waterfowl where you always have a whole bunch of other stuff in the water besides the subject. Again, this is where patience and perseverance can really pay off. I watched these two Blue-Winged Teals for over an hour waiting for them to stop feeding in the dense marsh grass and move to open water where I had a decent looking foreground and background.