I agree with rui... one thing I would mention is that I for one prefer the natural shot over a lot of pp.. yes sometimes maybe a bit of darkening or lighting.. maybe some sharpening and some noise reduction... that's it for me though for the most part... if it was a gloomy day I want the pic to be gloomy.. if it was really early I want the pic to be darker than what some might like.. I want the pic to reflect the instant I took it.
Winter and early spring pics up here tend to show little colour and seem very monotone.. many tell me to make em pop a bit by playing with temp or tint. I usually dont cause that isnt how it was at the time.
Water is another biggie for me as in many instances it can set the mood of the pic and give the pic the character of the moment... water isnt always blue or has tinges of blue.. sometimes its green .. sometimes really murky.... if the sun isnt out water is rarely blue and as such tells a story of what the day was like.. likewise.. on sunny days the blue can just pop and really tell the story of that day and the brightness of it. I like the water to look as it appeared that day as it is a big part of the story of the moment for me.
My biggest pet peeve with wildlife pics is capturing man-made objects in the pic like roads or signs.. quite a few reasons for this but the 2 main ones are I persoanlly prefer the pic to look as wild as possible and also that road signs or other manmade objects often times give up the location of where you took the pic... up here for me that is a big deal as most people up here hunt.
As your 2 pics appear on my screen I honestly prefer your first pic.. the one with no pp.... subtle details in bird can be seen and seem to be lost in the post pp and I really like the water better in the first pic as well as it seems more natural to me..
in the end though the only thing that really matters is what you like
Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin
Reflections On Canadian Wildlife