29 October 2019

Something in the Air

Last year, every time I enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife stalking during my morning walks along the greenway, I longed for the day Lizard would be able to join me and enjoy these same amazing sights and experiences.

He retired in December, but persistent pain and Parkinson's prevented him from joining me for morning walks and even bike rides for months. New medication in September enabled him to regain some of the things Parkinson's had stolen from him, and by the end of September, he was walking with me almost every day. At first, he'd walk just a block or so, but each week he tried to extend the length of his walk and his endurance.

He's walking up to four miles a day now, and still trying to build back what he can.

The day before my biggest adventure this year, the Raptor Photo Safari, Lizard and I were walking along the river together, marveling at the pink clouds reflecting in the still water when a bird dove from a nearby tree like a bullet straight into the pink water, right before our eyes! We both assumed it must be a kingfisher because we'd seen one very near the same location doing the very same thing twice in the previous couple of weeks. Must be good fishing in this river!

The bird was completely submerged, and we could see movement in the water. Suddenly wings appeared, and both of us gasped because these wings were far bigger than what a kingfisher might sport. The wings flapped against the pink water a couple of times, eventually lifting the bird airborne, and we could see it was an osprey!

Just the day before, I was walking from the train to our car after work when four aircraft circled overhead. The Broncos football game was about to begin, and the pregame show often includes a flyover from the Air Force Base just south of us. We often get to enjoy the aircraft circling overhead in a holding pattern as they await gametime, and this day was no different. I didn't recognize the aircraft this time, and I was juggling to get my camera out of my backpack without spilling my crochet all over the sidewalk when Lizard excitedly approached me to ask if I'd seen the "A-10 warthogs" and if I'd managed to snap a photo. He fervidly described the history of the aircraft as we scanned the sky together, hoping we'd get to see more.

I successfully removed my point-and-shoot without spilling tangles of hand-dyed crochet thread and was zipping the backpack closed when the A-10s made another pass. The point-and-shoot isn't only slow at starting up, it also isn't very good at focusing on moving targets. I wished I'd had the good camera, and I have regretted not carrying the extra weight every day more than once. The A-10s zoomed by without me firing a single shot, and together Lizard and I began searching for a better viewpoint, hoping the aircraft would return one more time.

The next time they approached, the pilots seemed to be trying to get into formation. Lizard commented they were showing off for me. I managed to get a couple of shots, and we could see they were making yet another loop instead of heading downtown toward the stadium. We made our way to higher ground so we could see them again without trees and buildings blocking our view, and I got them in formation on their final pass. Lizard and I made jokes all the way back to the car about the pilots showing off (which, of course, they really weren't).

As the osprey took to the sky, I quickly turned on my point-and-shoot (dang, I hadn't learned my lesson the day before and toted the real camera!!!), but the point-and-shoot wasn't fast enough. To our surprise, the osprey circled, not once, but twice! He (or she) finally found the perfect perch and landed in a nearby tree where we could watch and take still photos. Not a single shot of the fish-toting bird in flight turned out, as expected.

Lizard quipped the osprey was showing off when it circled, trying to make sure we knew it had triumphed over the fish and was going to thoroughly enjoy breakfast.

"I think he knew I didn't bring the good camera, and he was trying to make sure I got a good shot," I teased right back.

"That counts as showing off," Lizard noted.

Later that day, Shaun Wilsey, one of the photographers in one of our online birding groups, posted an awesome shot he'd snagged in Waterton Canyon just hours after our experience. I really need to start carrying my good camera every day!!!

1 comment :

  1. Great that he is building up to being able to walk more and more. Stinks when you can't get the shot you want right there. I tried to get an osprey the other week, but it didn't show off for me. It just flew far far away. Hmph.


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