A Camera in Hand…

…is worth two in the car.

After finishing up at work, I had almost three hours before I had to be somewhere so I booked it to Morris Plains to follow up on an RBA.  It’s not often that RBAs are in my part of the state! Usually they’re down the shore. I got there however, figured out which parking lot I was supposed to be in, and found the last of the day’s birders as they were packing up – just in time to see the bird in a borrowed scope (Thanks, Billy!).  Silly me, in my excitement, I forgot to grab my camera.  I did run back to the car, and in the fading light, I can proudly present bird #82 for the year and #161 for the state:

Pacific Loon visiting Corporate America.  Odd choice, but lovely bird nevertheless.

Pacific Loon visiting Corporate America. Odd choice, but lovely bird nevertheless.

Pacific Loon!  Both the weather and the loon were uncooperative once I got my camera out. (To be fair both cooperated before the camera was out.  The loon was present; the incessant rain stopped.) Once the camera was in the hand, the loon refused to turn and face me, hanging out as far away as possible.  The wind howled and shook the camera.  I had tears streaming down my face from the wind battering my straining eyes. I did however, get another photo, horrible quality, but that’s precisely why I love it.

My Van Gogh rendition of a Pacific Loon.  No photo editing used - just natural skill!

My Van Gogh rendition of a Pacific Loon. No photo editing used – just natural skill!

6 thoughts on “A Camera in Hand…

  1. Ugh. I had a similar experience with a Golden-crowned Sparrow a couple weeks ago. It kills…but that’s part of the curse that comes with photography and photo-blogging, the pain of not getting the shots. Still, that’s a a sweet find and at least you got some documentation.


    • Perhaps I should make an art of really bad bird photos… it can be my niche on the web. And the memory of seeing the Pacific Loon still makes me happy whenever I reflect on seeing it. I love loons. Though honestly, when it comes down to the bare bones truth, there are few birds I don’t like. European Starlings (despite their paint-brunsh prettiness), House Sparrows, Female cardinals…

      • It’s an opprobrious confession Kathleen, but one with which I suspect all but the most zealous naturalists sympathize. Starlings are beautiful, and as much as I hate how they push out indigenous species, there’s something also impressive in their adaptability. House Sparrows are lots of fun too, and between you and me (and whoever else reads this) I think the female Cardinal is more interesting than the male. THERE I said it.

      • The fascinating difference between native species (specifically the ones I’ve had experience with: Tree Swallow, Eastern bluebird, and American Kestrel) and the non-natives (House Sparrow, European Starling) is when we arrive to check the boxes the non-natives abandon their nest while the natives will stay to protect the nest. Doesn’t matter if it’s the young present or eggs. I might be able to forgive them if were better parents.

        To my eyes, the female cardinal just shows a hint of orange in the yard. I’m always hopeful it’s something new and exciting, and I’m always disappointed. Not to mention that I find her coloration much more garish than the male. THERE I said it.

  2. I agree! It’s five days later and I am still super excited. I picked up two loon species this year – the Red-Throated Loon in January and now the Pacific Loon. Quite chuffed! Plus a second Pacific Loon was spotted in NJ elsewhere in Morris Co, so perhaps we’ll have an east coast branch of Pacific Loons in the near future!

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