Sunday, December 18, 2011
The Lovebirds, Part II
The two herons (see yesterday's post) seemed like a couple of nervous Nellies. The lead bird always seemed indecisive about where it wanted to go (which strikes me as a very feminine trait) and the other seemed like it didn't really want to follow - but neither did it want to lose sight of the other bird (which seems like a typical love-sick male).
When I film birds, as I have said before, I make no attempt to hide my presence. I stand on the shore or on a dock (I was on the shoreline this day) out in the open. There are a couple of reasons for this: first, I don't want to be restricted by a blind (although I own one) from filming in any direction I need to and, secondly, I am unconvinced it changes the behavior of the birds I am filming. I don't hide, but I don't make any loud noises or animated movements either. I simply stand behind the camera waiting for something interesting to happen.
So, what happened next really surprised me. Instead of landing across the river, the lead bird turned and flew directly at me. You have to realize, I am using a 400 mm telephoto lens; not the longest lens, but it still makes something distant look relatively large. As I was watching the heron through the lens, it kept getting larger and larger. I began thinking, "This bird has got to see me. It is not going to land where I am standing." But it kept coming until I could only see parts of the bird through the lens.
I guess you have to look at it from the bird's perspective. As it was flying toward me, it didn't see a human bean, it saw something unrecognizable with five legs (three for the tripod) and one big eye (the lens). That is, if it could make it out to be anything other than an unmoving object near where it wanted to land. It simply did not recognize me and landed right next to me. I could have shook it wing.
As soon as it did recognize me, it freaked and got right back up in the air. I thought it would keep going and leave the area, but I was in for one more surprise. More about that tomorrow.