Up Close

Today is the 5th day since my return from Taiwan. My day and night are still upside down. I was dozing off at church during Sunday morning service and wide awake past midnight. I went on a photo shoot at Ridgefield wildlife refuge on the second day of my return, crazy enough, and the majority of the images turned out blurry. I may have been daydreaming while I was shooting.
Heron and Egret are very common, but I have not had much luck getting clear pictures.  First of all, I am sensitive to weight and too lazy to carry a large lens. And, either the subject is too far away and I don’t have the right lens with me, or, I am not ready when the birds show up unexpectedly.  I know I have to be better and more dedicated if I want to be a wildlife photographer.
Since I had my eyes on birds, I have seen a couple of egrets and herons dwelling in Eugene Delta Ponds. I have walked by the ponds many times, but most of the time they are too far away for me to fetch a decent shot.  Completely unexpected, I ran into both of them within 20-50 feet away in Taiwan and my 200mm lens did the job fine. How thrilled I was if you can imagine!

Little Egret

Years ago in Hawaii, I was desperate to photo cardinal and a red cardinal showed up singing about 10 feet away on the day of my departure.  I was so stirred up by that crisp voice on my daily walk path and suddenly, that sparrow stopped right in front of me. I could not get good shots of egret and heron, and now they are within reach. How do you explain that? Coincidence happened every once a while, but I can grab a handful of examples that occurred continuously and unexpectedly. End of the day I have to make a conclusion that it is the Almighty who has graciously granted my desire and I am absolutely grateful.

When I looked at egrets from distance, they are white like snow and elegant like a fairy. I particularly like their fine and silk-looking feather. But the one below was wading in a water lily pond where he was the sole inhabitant. He circled around the pond and worked diligently to fetch his prey. I have never seen one so close and for at least 45 minutes I was there, he did not stop hunting his victim. All of a sudden, my elegant fairy turns into an aggressive predator.
Blue Heron has that solemn and stately look. They usually stand on the edge of the water bank motionlessly and appear to ignore people’s presence, but immediately when you come a bit too close, they pull out. Their large wings flap graciously in the sky and I have always thought they are well-mannered as they seem….This guy flew from his spot to where three black-crowned night herons were perched. He was down low and three-night herons were up high on tree limbs. I saw him moving step by step closer to the tree and in a split second, he attacked one of the night herons right on the back. Night Heron flew and hid, and I was left in shock.

Great Blue Heron
Blue heron and night heron are obviously from the same clan. Now blue heron has called for the battle. My sympathy is with night heron. I understand they are aiming for the same prey in the pond, but come on, there should be equal opportunities. Don’t attempt to kill your competitor before the competition even starts.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
My day of bird discovery had not ended, I spotted another bird hiding in the bushes to consume his prey, bugs. I have never seen this bird and I was attracted to its colors. He was just about 5-6 feet away from me and I got to click no stop. When the images were displayed on my large computer screen, I saw his large and pretty eyes, at the same time, I noticed his mouth was filled with bugs. OMG. They look so gross to me. I prefer to see them distant in their elegant silhouette, I don’t want to know their true nature. I only want to remember its colorful crown, beautiful feather and its sparkling eyes.
Malayan Night Heron
I am glad that I captured this red dragonfly that I have never seen before, but I have learned my lesson. I don’t want to see them closer than that.Just recently I have been debating if I should get a longer lens to shoot wildlife and get clear shots. Now I have got what I wanted, do I enjoy it more? I am not sure.  I seem to rather open one eye and close the other.

I cannot see well when they are distant and now I refuse to see the truth when they are up close. Art is invented to enhance our life. I am interested to explore the truth but I choose to only report the beauty, not the beast.

I went to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial to photograph a friend, but I did not catch him at right time. Instead, I found egrets and herons there who have altered my course for the day and also adjusted my perspective. I have always liked to plan ahead and aim closer to my goal. But what can I do, when the direction is geared from Above and I have no control over it? Expect the Unexpected.Discoveries bring up positive and negative truths. I just have to take whatever it comes, and not agonize over little things.  I am thankful enough that I am given what I desired regardless of the outcome.

Thought you may be curious about the CKS memorial in Taipei, Taiwan, below are a few shots for representation.

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