Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's a Tough Job, But...

Wildlife photography is demanding work. It takes research and knowledge about an animal's habits and habitat, patience and perseverance through long hours of stalking or staking out prey, and mental and physical stamina to withstand the harrowing demands of the field, which include lugging back-bending quantities of bulky equipment through often horrible conditions while waiting for what might be one fleeting opportunity to capture your subject in an aesthetically pleasing manner. What follows is the true tale of one successful mission.

It was early afternoon on a hot and humid day when I sat down to what I knew would be a delicious lunch at an open air restaurant in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, a few hours south of Bangkok. As I idly gazed across the creek from my thatched roof-covered picnic table, movement in the trees caught my eyes. Apparently a monkey had decided to take his lunch at the same time as I had. (photo above) Putting down my cold soda, I grabbed my camera and shot away until he finished his meal and slowly walked away down the creek bank. Before I could take a bite of my food, the retreating monkey inadvertently flushed a pair of kingfishers that had been resting out of sight in a bush. I again picked up my trusty Nikon, then trekked the grueling 5 yards to a nearby table for a better vantage point and clicked away.

I had barely returned to my now-cooling lunch when I was disturbed by some turbulence in the creek. Upon closer investigation, it turned out the creek was home to several mudskippers. They swam, stalked prey, and ventured onto the mudflats as I filled my camera's memory card.

It began to rain as I finally finished my meal, so I headed back to my guest house, the excellent Blue Beach Resort. I stopped outside my room for a quick chat with Ricky, one of the friendly people who run the place, when a couple of green birds flew up and perched in a tree a few yards behind him. They seemed too large to be bee-eaters, a quite common species in the area, so we angled for a better look, discovering they were some sort of parrot Ricky had never seen before in all his years in the area. While he kept track of their locations, I ran the 10 yards to my camera and managed to grab a few shots before the pair flew off.

Ten minutes of incredibly dexterous internet searching yielded an identification: the pair were relatively rare Alexandrine Parakeets. What a great way to cap off a successful photographic expedition. And just in time for my afternoon nap.

Yeah, maybe sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

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Gotta Gettaway by Josh Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.