Had my plans for the day not been substantially disrupted, I would have never been in position to capture this image. I was somewhat miffed that my original intentions were torpedoed. After all the dust settled for the day, the discombobulation was fortuitous gift. The story unfolds below.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas
My original intentions were to photograph and report on a home and garden trade show, but due to circumstances over which I had full control, my departure was delayed. I was getting a late start anyway. My tardiness was exacerbated as I experienced one of those magic moments, when, as you scurry out the door, you discover that you are sans driver’s license, credit cards, the meager cash you carry and now, any claim that you do a good job of keeping up with things, since you are the guilty party in mislaying said credentials and not remembering where.
After about an hour of looking, mostly in the same places, my beloved spouse suggested that I check the pockets of the warmups I previously jettisoned in the dirty clothes hamper. BINGO, I’m off and running. Upon arrival at the event I saw exhibitors leaving the building with their stuff. Time for Plan B.
These coots formed up like a parade. I believe the formation is called an echelon right. Or is it echelon left?
The switch to plan B includes a couple of the default places to look for photos, the first of which is Saracen Lake, not far and normally good for an image or two. There are almost always coots around and sure enough, a gaggle of the critters swam in long enough for a couple of none-too-spectacular keeper shots.
A Coot with Red Eyes
This coot was curious enough to swim closer. Love those red eyes. Been there myself, but not as a genetic condition.
It was then that a gull landed. As I glanced at the bird, I noticed the dude was standing only on one leg. “Wonder why?” I mused to myself. Closer examination revealed that the gull was missing a leg. Apparently the gull takes his landing gear deficit as normal. Come to think of it, for him, it is normal. He managed to do some credible one-legged hops to walk around the parking lot and attendant grassy shore. It would be interesting to see how he keeps from swimming in a circle. Red Skelton fans will recall his gull routine between “Gertrude and Heathcliff.” For purposes of this story our gull is “Heathcliff.”
At first glance, I thought Heathcliff was standing on one leg with the other folded away. Not true. We have a genuine one-legged gull here. You don’t see many like this.
Time to Move
Heathcliff decides he wants to be on the grass.
Looks Good Over There
He checks out the situation before he commits to action.
Dude makes the first hop.
And Keep Going
Then the second hop.
And Then Arrive
OK, I’m here, time for a stretch. A few seconds later, a poorly muffled motorcycle roared by and Heathcliff launched. The misplaced wad of plastic is now taking on new meaning. I would have missed Heathcliff and his memorable antics. Hmmm.
It's A Grebe between Dives
As I was leaving the lake, I spied a grebe close by. You catch them between dives. This was after the third dive.
A Line of Pigeons
Pigeons standing and lining the roof of Saracen Landing remind us, “There’s one in every crowd.”
There was daylight left, so I repaired to another default “fall-back” place. It is just a mile or so south of the general population area of Pine Bluff. There are always cattle and sometimes some free-ranging chickens as pixel targets. The cattle were mostly uninteresting, but the chickens were a different story. By now, I was feeling lucky.
Life on the Free Range
A mother hen scratches leaves and underlying soil to reveal meal items for her remaining chicks. I say remaining because normally you see a hen with more chicks. Free ranging chickens are exposed to more dangers than confined chickens. The rest of this mom’s babies probably were food for some other critter’s babies.
A Curious Good Boy
As I take my face away from the chickens in the view finder, I see this curious dog staring at me. Shooting roadside critters, including these chickens, is always from inside the truck. If you step outside, even the most docile critters will have a moment of suspicion. That said, I was in the truck, barely off the road not far from this boy's home, and he wanted to know what was going on. I spoke to him as one does to a new dog and he seemed satisfied and patient. He was patient enough to allow time for a lens change to get this shot. Good boy!
Where There's a Hen....
The rooster was not far from this hen and several others in his flock. He quickly let me know he was there.
Off the Chart
This is the picture I did not originally know I was waiting for. This is the same hen and chicks you first saw above. The other chick is pecking away out of sight in the hole his mother has scratched. This chick popped up his molting head as I clicked. The resulting image looks like a mother admonishing her errant teenager for some sort of tribulation. What are the odds of getting this shot? Off the chart.
Now I’m thankful for the misplaced wad of credentials. Perhaps it was stupidity. Perhaps it was that Force above all Forces taking the reins from my hands. I’d like to think it was the latter rather than the former. Either way, I have no argument.
But Wait, There's More —
See a collection of pictures
from a blues benefit event
in Memphis including this shot
of legendary blues maven Reba Russell.
There were seven great bands. See ‘em all.
Click and go to Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.