Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Waddle Of The Photographer (Issue #150)

Last week, Son #1 and I watched a movie called March of the Penguins. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a fascinating story about Emperor penguins which live in just about the most inhospitable place on the planet, the Antarctic.

I’ve always been fond of penguins. Their charm is irresistible. At rest, they look like bankers quietly discussing business at a funeral. Then they do that goofy side-to-side waddle and suddenly they’re clowns. (Not the scary kind with red noses and big feet.) They’re so ungainly it’s hard to believe they’re birds - until you watch them fly gracefully through the water.

The movie showed how, every year, these amazing creatures walk and/or belly-slide 70 miles (110 km) across the ice from their hunting grounds in the ocean to their breeding area inland. And they go back and forth several times, often after not having eaten for months.

As engrossing as the movie was, I found myself stepping outside it from time to time in order to marvel at the physical challenges the film crew had to overcome. Imagine filming in temperatures below -50C (-58F) with winds of over 200 kmh! Holy cow! Even a Canadian would zip up his parka in that weather.

I had an occasion to recall the movie a couple of days ago.

The previous two mornings, as BennyTheBuzzsaw and I were walking, I saw a heron patiently fishing in a tiny pond along our route. I vowed to bring my camera the next morning.

Now, I’m only half as dumb as I look. Okay, two thirds. I knew it might be problematic trying to control a berserk Jack Russell terrier with ADD while trying to get close enough to snap a pic of a heron without spooking it. But nothing ventured - nothing gained. Fortune favours the brave. In for a penny - in for a pound. Would someone please slap me?


So, I brought my camera the next morning. Sure enough, Mr. Heron was there but he was in a more distant section of the pond. My camera only has a modest 3X zoom, so I had to get quite a bit closer if I was to get a decent pic.

While I paused, considering how best to approach the bird, Benny patiently wrapped his leash around my ankles several times and reared up on his hind legs, straining to get somewhere. Anywhere.

I disentangled him and looked around. There was absolutely nothing nearby to which I could tie the leash, or anchor it down. I decided my best course of action was to pinch it between my knees and ever...so...slowly...make my way towards the heron.

I waddled stealthily. Click. Waddle. Click. How the heck did those penguins do this for 70 miles with those short little legs? Of course, none of them was walking a dog and snapping pictures. I would have noticed.

Within 50 yards now. This might work.

Then Benny, who up to this point was busy sniffing something, decided he had to get to the edge of the pond slightly sooner than immediately.

He surged. My knees pinched the leash as tightly as possible as I kept the camera to my eye, trying to keep the heron in view as I clicked.

My stealthy waddle became a zombie-like lurch as I flung my lower legs out to the side and then forward.

The trick was to maintain forward progress, my balance, control of the dog and the camera, while appearing unthreatening to the heron which, the occasional jiggly peek through the viewfinder told me, was no longer fishing but staring right at me for some reason.

Maybe my curses tipped him over the edge. I dunno. Anyway, the big bird took off before I could get close enough for a good shot.

I did manage a couple of mediocre pictures which appear below.

Anybody know where I might find lead boots than would fit a Jack Russell?

Shhh! Be vewy, vewy quiet. Weah hunting wascawee fwoggies.

My zoom lets me sneak in for a little closer peek.

Okay, enough of this!

I'm mildly surprised I managed to track him at all.
150 issues is something of a milestone. Many of you have stuck with me since the first one. Most of you have hopped aboard along the way. Thanks to all. Hope you've enjoyed the ride thus far and that we still have a long way to go.


Hilary said...

Happy 150 (more, if you count the non-issues)! I'm one of the lucky ones who has been reading since the beginning.

You managed some great shots of that heron. I wish I had been there to take a few of you, but then you would have just made me hold the leash or something.

Anyway, I just wanted to be the first one to honour your request.


And to let you know that you made me laugh.. as always. :)

Francis said...

I wish I was there to see you struggling with that dog :) I'd rather see that than the heron!

Kathleen Frassrand said...

So Funny! I loved it. Thanks for making me laugh. I'll be returning often to read of your new adventures. :-)

Crabby McSlacker said...

Nice photos after all!

And I don't know about lead doggie boots, but perhaps next time you could harness little Bennie to a bowling ball. Might at least tucker him out a bit dragging it around. Tough little guy, though, he might actually enjoy it.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Hilary. (You MADE me start this thing!) :)

Son, it was ugly. I'm glad you weren't there. (Or you would have ragged on me forever.)

Welcome Kathleen. I'm glad you enjoyed. Thanks for letting me know. :)

I like that idea Crabby. It gave me a pleasant 5-minute reverie.

Then I realized he'd have that ball worn down to a nub in no time and I'd have to shell out big bucks for a new one every week or so. ;)

Nita said...

Frank, made me laugh as usual. Good pictures although I too wish Hilary or one of the lads were with you to take pictures as you and Benny made your way. Congratulations on 150 issues, I'm one of the late comers (thanks to Birol) but I've enjoyed every one.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks for the kind words Nita. I'm very happy you've joined the party. And I guess I owe Birol another $5....


Leah J. Utas said...

Great heron pics, Frank. Got a kick out of your adventures.

Spidey said...

Those are great photos. Were you looking for an interview??

I have been to the Everglades many times and herons and other birds don't let you get much closer.

I guess they have learned that after the photos and the idle chit-chat, some humans will try to put a leash on them...

Kappa no He said...

Occasionally we get herons here. I used to call them cranes. Because in Japan every bird is a crane. Unless of course it's a crow or a pigeon. My friend politely taught me they were in fact herons. Never gotten a good shot though.

Once when I needed to run into the school's office for an emergency (I spotted a dead cat behind some trees in the school yard) I knew I couldn't take Cha Cha so I wrapped his leash around a telephone pole nearby. I hurried. As soon as I was out of sight he began to bark. I ran. Doing my best to explain the "situation" with the cat corpse the dog suddenly stopped barking. Oh crap. By the time I got back he was knee deep in rice field dirt with this huge goofy grin on his face.

Bernita said...

That first shot is particularly perfect.
One goes over here every morning and every evening. I like the way their legs clothes pin against the sky.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Leah. :)

And you Spidey. Nope, no interview. ;)

Terrie, dogs are like little boys (and some men). Nothing's worth doing unless you get dirty doing it. ;)

Thanks Bernita but I sure wish I had a digital as good as some of my old 35mm SLRs. One of these years.... :)

twizzle said...

sigh...here's the thing. I'm trying valiantly here...but really...it's almost irresistable... not to make some crack... about you not squeezing your knees together tight enough.

congrats on 150. I have to go now. before I say something.


twizzle said...

dang. that post was funny. no. really. I'm going now.

Bruce Robinson said...

I took my wife to see the movie. It was date preceded by dinner, I in my jeans and she in her black velvet slacks. She loved the flick and hated the chewing gum left a prior occupant of her stadium seating chair in the ritzy, glitzy multi-plex. We made seven bucks for the cleaners and scored two more tickets! We also check the seats more carefully now.

I find that I am forever jealous of the egrets and blue herons that fish my local waters. Why can't I know where the fish are as well as they do?

On the other hand, I would rather the fish bite than require me to bite them in the stream, pond or river.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks for exhibiting such restraint twizzle. ;)

Bruce, those birds are reminding us of the importance of patience. Plus I think they have better eyesight than we do.... And I'm sure with you on that fish-biting thing.

Stace said...

The photos are actually quite good, all things considered. By "all things", of course, I mean Benny. Very nice!

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Stace. :)