Sunday, March 9, 2014

No Camera

Did you ever for a brief horrifying moment believe something valuable of yours had been stolen?  You retrace your steps, first in your mind and then for real, searching for that precious object, certain foul play has occurred.

Until you remember where you left it. That was me with my camera this weekend.  It's at work, I know exactly where I left it after I led a field trip for the Pinelands Short Course at Forsythe NWR.  Happily, it's in a safe spot. Unhappily, it's not with me, and wasn't for the rest of the weekend's birding, so no new pictures for the Freiday Bird Blog today.  And yes, I do feel kind of naked without it, which means I've perhaps evolved finally from a birder/naturalist to a photo-birder/naturalist. 

Or maybe, dear reader, it just means I love to share what nature hands out, and so today I'd maybe be sharing photos of Brown Creeper at Lizard Tail Swamp or even the Black-headed Gull at Miami Beach, Villas, NJ, if I could have gotten a photo of either of them.

I dunno, this deserves further reflection.  Does the camera make you a worse naturalist, or a better one?  I virtually never photograph a bird I haven't identified and watched through binocs or scope first, so I'm not using the camera as an i.d. crutch there, taking pictures and identifying them later or even worse, taking pictures and then shipping them off to someone else for an opinion. Ah, but what about bugs, dragonflies and damselflies and butterflies and such?  I often i.d. such critters after the fact, and on occasion do send photos to others for help.  Is that bad?  I guess not, I learn a little bit every time. 

Here's something else:  I often spend much more time with a subject when I'm trying to get a good photo of it than I would if I was "just" birding or butterflying or whatever.  I've many fond memories of hanging out with a particular loon or sea duck foraging near a jetty, waiting for the perfect, close shot and in the process learning more about how they foraged and even what they were eating.  That's how I learned how often Common Loons feed on crabs, not fish, in winter. 

There.  The camera makes me a better naturalist. And I miss it.

 [This is actually a shot from 4 years ago, but it illustrates the point:  you can learn a lot watching wildlife through a camera lens, like for example what they like to eat. Common Loon, click to enlarge.]

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