Bad Bird Luck

People that get good photos of birds must either spend a lot of time trying, or they get extremely lucky. In my experience birds seem to know when they are being photographed and will do anything to thwart my efforts at capturing them.

On a trip to Alaska in the 80s, I repeatedly tried to photograph the local bald eagles. No sooner would I get the tripod set, the camera pointed and focused, the eagle would fly over to another branch right before I could press the shutter. One particular eagle kept me and my zoom lens entertained for a half an hour before I finally gave up.

The same trip there was another attempt to photograph a bald eagle who had just landed on a rock with a salmon in his talons. I quickly set up my tripod, got the correct focus, and was just reaching for the cable release when it flew off. Would have been a National Geographic cover I’m sure if I had only been a split second faster.

Egret in tree

I was reminded of those efforts last night when sitting in my comfy chair watching the evening news. Suddenly my eyes were drawn to some commotion in the willow tree outside my window. A large egret had apparently made a rather embarrassing landing in the tree and was trying to get himself properly situated.

Now I have never seen an egret in a tree around here, and maybe that’s why. They are much more suited for following cows along on the ground, or flying from one pasture to another. I have even seen them sitting on the backs of cows, but never in trees.

So I decided this was a Kodak moment, or what ever those have become in our digital age. I got my camera and went out to the back yard, and took a few pictures of the egret sitting in our tree. It didn’t seem very comfortable, so I stayed focused on it, figuring I’d get a great photo of it flying off.


I waited. And waited some more. The egret apparently had no pressing appointments this evening, and was simply content to stay there and watch the sunset. I on the other hand was getting restless after about 10 minutes, and more importantly, I was getting cold.

So I decided I could quickly run back inside and get my jacket so I could wait him out. And of course as soon as I lowered my camera and turned around, I heard and a rustle and a whoosh of wings flying over my head.

So if National Geographic ever needs a photo of an egret’s butt, I’m the guy to call.

Egret flying away