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By Joseph Dempsey urge

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On the skittish scale of one to ten, with ten being a good hugging from a long-lost friend, and one being run for cover now, do not pass go, do not collect $200, I generally give these critters about a four. This one, at least for a tantalizingly short stretch, earned a 6.5. He (or she) was dining in a bar-pit (borrow-pit to the more proper readers) alongside I-530.

The hole was there because of the interstate construction. Bayou Bartholomew overflows into the pit after heavy rains, restocking the watery smörgåsbord — for egrets that it is. The highway department planted cypress trees in the pit, and the trees are doing nicely. They are about four or five feet tall, giving rise to a southern beauty spot in the making.

The pit appears to be two or three hundred yards wide and a quarter mile or so long. Normally, the egrets opt for the side farthest from the interstate right-of-way. This creature was the exception to the rule. He was so close to the right-of-way that if you could have walked down to the edge of the water, you could probably have taken a good spit and hit him between the eyes. Dream on.

However, I have learned from experience to roll the passenger-side window down prior to my arrival, ease onto the shoulder of the road just a little less than a quarter mile from the intended target, and slowly roll to a stop with the camera in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. The birds see you, but their attention to the abundance of marine delicacies somewhat delays their eventual decision to evacuate.

That was the case here. I managed to squeeze off about 30 or 40 exposures before the dude had his fill of my intrusion and flew thither. The photo featured at the top of the page is one of the last shots. He had moved one of his legs to make the ripples. It was shot at 1839 hours today, March 30, year of our Lord 2008 — thus the slight yellow-orange tint. The sun was creeping behind the clouds.


The sky above was shot at the same location, in the other direction, and 20 minutes later.

Grabbing the egret was one of those times when you can happily say, "I'd rather be lucky than good any day of the week." Of course, the first requirement is, you gotta be there. I'm not certain what Higher Power directed me to hit the road when I did, but I am grateful. Probably two minutes in either direction and I would have drawn a blank. All of which tells me that, for the most part, following an urge is not a bad thing. At least this time.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D-200 / AF-VR NIkkor 80-400 f4.5 - 5.6 / hand held from inside the truck / Post-processed in Photoshop CS3 Extended.

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