Sunday, April 5, 2009

Keep Moving

April and May are times to truly live for in Michigan and Ohio if you are a birder. Shorebirds, warblers, flycatchers, name it - they are all on the go. So many to see, so little time, as the saying goes. One of the premier places in the Midwest is Magee Marsh in northwest Ohio. With my new interest in photography, I have been looking forward to trying things out this spring and getting some shots as the birds move along on their merry way.

That said, I went there Saturday with a good friend of mine. 58 species for the day was the final tally. Newbies for the year included Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, and Eastern Towhee, just to name a few.

But the Northern Harrier will stick with me for a while, I think. The bird's identity was never a question. I recognized it immediately. But a question did exist - if I sit here long enough, will it come close enough to get a nice flight shot? Bit by bit, it drifted closer to the road (I was parked on the shoulder of the long driveway to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center) . I waited. I waited. With lens the size of a coffee can sticking out of the driver's window for all to see, I waited.

The oncoming driver in the diesel F-250 did not. He thought it would be a good idea to stop BETWEEN ME AND THE BIRD as it (the bird) drifted down and settled in the grass.

"So, what kind of bird was that?", he asked.
Politely, I responded "A male Northern Harrier".

Of course, there are other ways I could have responded, like "I have no idea...", or "Hmmm, I am not certain. All I see is silver paint." or "Well, geeee, I'm not sure because your God-damned truck is in the way."

I likened it to walking up to a golfer as they swing, asking "What kinda club is that?!" Or, a nurse asking a surgeon before they cut into a skullcap "Is that blade sharp?!"

But, no, I was polite. Admittedly, the bird was too far out and the grass was too tall for me to get a shot. But, that is really not the point, is it? When someone is safely pulled over on the roadside and has a lens trained out the window and you want to get past, keep moving. I won't rant because you went in front of me. After all, its a road. But, keep moving.

That said, I did find myself with a chance to snatch a photo of a Great Egret. It stood, very proud but cautious, along the shoulder. I managed a photo. No F-250s in sight...

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