Bird brained stories!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sometimes when one is birding, it's important to look for the little surprises out there. That's what happened to me Saturday night. I headed down to the Myrick Marsh, this time working my way back and forth along the Wood Duck Trail on the south edge of the marsh. This is a heavily wooded area, with second growth trees and large bunches of willow, especially dense at the east end of the trail. Many families of ducks were out enjoying the evening along with me; Wood Ducks, Blue Winged Teal and of course, Mallards. Working back and forth, I confirmed an auditory sighting visually of my first Green Heron of the year. Redstarts, Orioles and all the regulars were working the leafed out trees and my binoculars overtime.

Three times--yes, three--I was unknowingly within five feet of foraging Great Blue Herons, just on the other side of all that dense willow thicket. Though I didn't see them, they must have seen me, as they spooked and flew right overhead, just above the trees, screeching and doing their best to impersonate pterodactyls. My, but they're huge! It was one of the herons that I was trying to capture in pixels that led to my little surprise. I'd seen it browsing photogenically in an opening where the spring fed stream comes into the marsh, with that sweet evening light hitting it just so. Unfortunately, it was well beyond decent reach of even my monster lens, so I worked my way back, hoping to find a closer vantage point from which to shoot. I found a little passage at one point about halfway back, and started to walk carefully to water's edge. I had one of those moments where some small voice said, "Look down." Right in front of me, no more than a couple feet, were these two ducklings, seemingly unconcerned with my presence. Working slowly and quietly, I was able to take a couple shots before they waddled to the other side of the weeds, where Mama Duck and the sibs were waiting.

I never did find a good vantage point for my heron shot. I'd have liked a bit clearer foreground to keep the blades of grass from bisecting my ducklings. Picky, aren't I? Still, it gave me another moment's pause to reflect on all the things I must miss in life because I'm in a hurry, or too intent on some objective to stop and look around at my world. All in all, an evening enjoying nature, a moment's reflection on Life's Big Questions and a cute photo to show for it is still a pretty sweet deal.

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