Avian elegance

Things have been moving way too fast around here. Between planning for a trip to India, getting immunizations, travel for photo assignments, travel for family and general household needs it feels like we’ve both been on a tread mill moving slightly faster than comfortable. Today was the the first day that I could really call my own and do what I thought was the priority.  For me, that boiled down to taking a “retirement day”.

I know that I am most comfortable with my camera when I’m by myself and traveling at my own pace.  Don’t get me wrong… I love company and enjoy the times when friends or Dianne are along for “personal photos”.  But I know that I always think about how my photo field “workflow” tends to stifle others or delay them from being where they want to be.  It’s probably just my problem but it is a mental fact of life.  I just seem to photograph at a richer level when I’m alone.  Don’t ask me what that means… I’m calmer, I can adjust at will, I can back track or sit in one place for a few hours.  That’s exactly what I did today.  I could have been processing photos for the family birthday party or the Forest Service.  I could have been preparing research about our trip to India. I could have been in the yard doing “stuff”. But I chose to pack the car with camera gear and go to Ridgefield National Wildlfie Refuge again.

I didn’t expect much when I entered the refuge.  Water levels are way down and it’s kind of between migration seasons.  I was heartened to see that an American bittern had been seen two days prior to my visit. I really didn’t care and was prepared to focus on patterns and textures if I did not run into any birds.

I found a heron among a bunch of chaotic branches and shot a few frames.  This was mostly just a warm up exercise as I knew the files would disappear during editing.

As I drove around the refuge there was a strange calm.  No (or few) birds.  No concentrations of red winged blackbirds.  No significant duck populations.  Stagnant water full of duck weed.  I was mentally adjusting to the idea of looking for texture and patterns.  No big deal, just a shift in attitude and expectations.

As I left the wooded portion of the drive I saw an egret in a slough.  Great!  One bird but close enough to make some frames.  I settled in and set the camera up.  Bean bag on the window. Aperture priority, no compensation due to the clouds and light rain.  The bird got comfortable with me and we began the dance that lasted over two hours.  I watched this bird catch fish after fish.  I’ve always wanted a photo half as good as my friend Eric has of a heron and a fish.  I’m not sure I got the same composition but I can say that I now have about 25 images of this egret and its meals.  Magnificent bird. Calm experience. Relaxing but energizing.  Educational.  What a fun way to play hooky from work and take a “me day”. I hope you enjoy the images.  I highly recommend that you click on the images to view a larger version. Call me if you’d like to see a few hundred more.

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3 thoughts on “Avian elegance

  1. Oh mY – what wonderful shots – and so close to an Egret. I am envious and also so happy for you to get out and get those shots. Good on you!!

  2. I’m envious Bruce! What an awesome sequence! Of course, three or four of these stand out better than the rest, but each one is great! I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to just sit and enjoy watching this for two hours alone. I, like you, enjoy shooting with others, but nothing beats being out alone. Great work again.

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