Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Watchful Waiting: A Life Lesson from the Great Egret

I’ve probably shared that March is my least favorite month of the year, and spring-break week I best spend in self-imposed hiding.  My reasons and prejudicial behavior are not important.  Sometimes I work on self-change; sometimes I work on self-acceptance.  And sometimes I just work on letting time pass. And with the latter I rely heavily on the wonderful quote from Mark Twain’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve” as Adam repeated two words with each Sunday’s diary entry:  pulled through.  This is my week to pull through.

But my recent five days at Brazos Bend were a wonderful exploration of my favorite month of the year:  February.  Memories of those field days give me much to celebrate.  Raw digital images of the park’s resident birds give me good company to occupy my mind and challenge my creativity.  The biggest challenge is my limited artistic skill; the second biggest challenge is my continued clumsiness with mastering Photoshop Elements.  But I don’t mind either. 
Although not as rewarding as chasing birds in the field, chasing after and developing that one crisp image that tells a bird’s day-in-the-life story is a thing of beauty to me.   It is time well spent for what I would call my day-in-the-life story. It was 1:30 a.m. this morning when I ended my yesterday and turned off my computer.  Ten photographs were my Monday product.  Sleep was my reward.

I should mention that like most birders, I love chasing after and photographing those hard to get and rare species of what we call migrants, the colorful warblers and other passerines that too-quickly pass through Texas as they migrate north each spring and again south each fall.  Like many humans, they spend spring-break week out and about pursuing the best locale, the best food, the best entertainment.
And so I give pause today and share my special fondness for the most visible of local year-round residents:  the egrets and herons that call this coastal bend their home. I love to watch these gentle giants of the bird world as they hide, often in plain sight, by simply being still.  Their innate stillness makes them expert fishermen.  They patiently wait for the exact moment to display their lightning lunge toward the prey at hand (or perhaps I should say at bill).  Their watch is purposeful.  Their wait is purposeful.   

And so I raised my 400mm lens and shot this image of a Great Egret at Brazos Bend that last wonderful week of February.  This gentle giant was stoic and still, hiding out among the reeds at Brazos Bend.  It was giving watch, waiting.  Until it wasn’t.
( Please "click on" the photo to enlarge your view of this Egret's day-in-the-life lesson.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mother Nature, Naked as a Jaybird

I just spent five perfect days with Mother Nature in one of her many mansions:  Brazos Bend State Park.

I chased birds with binoculars around my neck.  I shot birds with my 400 mm lens.  I rode my bicycle all over the park’s many trails, almost running over an alligator as I carelessly ignored my path ahead, craning my neck upward to scan the high places of warbler woods. (The alligator graciously paused as it was crossing the trail, allowing me safe passage.  But as I looked backwards after my last minute bicycle swerve, I caught the turned head of the alligator, looking at me with the judging eyes of a motorist watching a speeding, reckless driver.  You know the look.) 
It was a glorious five days.  I came away with the refreshment gifted by time alone with Mother Nature, in a corner of her universe that gives safe haven, for a time.

And as I spend this week indoors, avoiding the Texas spring-break crowds, I set a goal to develop my favorite Aves photos from my five days in the field.  But before spending the hours in Photoshop to convert raw images into cropped jpeg files, I thought I’d post one photo that displays a somewhat unique view of Mother Nature’s beauty. 

She coquettishly shared it with me as I quietly stood in a heavily wooded “bottomland” of the park, basking in the presence of a birdy spot.  And as I turned with binoculars raised, I saw her, standing symbolically in this beautiful wooded field of flowers, naked as a jaybird.  Leave it to Mother Nature to outdo Joni Mitchell’s famous pose inside Ms. Mithcell’s “For the Roses” album release.

Go spend some alone time with Mother Nature this springtime—she will always surprise.  And if you carefully look and listen, she may reveal one of her better sides.