I’m writing about birds again. Sort of. They really are difficult to photograph.
If Instagram existed when I was little, then Big Bird would have had no problem proving to the world that Snuffalufagus was real. He would have shot some selfies with that mammothlike beast and tagged them #Snuffalufagus #real.
This is how I sometimes feel about photography in general and instagram in particular. Like I can prove to others, and even myself, that these amazing, bizarre moments actually HAPPENED. See?!
And yet sometimes they still elude me, like birds taking flight, like surfers sinking into a wave, like curtains floating on a breeze that you can barely feel. Gone in a blink.
Catching these moments is like chasing butterflies. You don’t want to ruin them, and destroy your present-ness. But when you somehow manage to nail it without destroying the moment itself… Magic! The feeling of capture is awesome. Even when it is a small private victory like I had last week with my curtains.
I’m still waiting for vindication with the birds that live in and migrate through the culvert by the train station in Laguna Niguel California where I drop my daughter daily to take the train to school. A culvert is a sort of manmade river, and this particular one is home to a massive collection of wetland birds that go unnoticed. They literally fly under the radar.
It’s an industrial area, full of auto shops and self storage units. There is a Costco on the hill above the other side of the concrete chasm. Nobody is hiking or birdwatching amidst all this cement. There’s not so much as a sidewalk on the side of the road by the river.
But one day I saw an egret perched on the chain link fence and pulled over in an illegal spot and ran in my slippers (hey, I was just driving my kid to the train station) across the street to the strip of rocky dirt beside the fence. My presence startled the natives. They panicked like teenagers busted at a house party. Hundreds of birds lurched into the sky, anxious to get away from me. The mix of graceful and awkward made me catch my breath. Large and small. Black and white and striped. Blue, black, tan, gray. So many birds in such a brief moment of time and space that I wondered if I was hallucinating. Had I crossed some portal into bird Narnia? I tried to move stealthily. I slid out my phone.
The most exotic ones were the first to fly. The ducks and starlings were far more laid back. But the egrets, cranes, blue herons and shrikes were gone downstream before I could unlock my iPhone and snap. All but one Great Egret. It lingered long enough to give me an almost-moment. It’s not the cloud of strange birds I wanted to share but it’s something. Proof, of a sort. I’ll be going back for more.
Sometimes you can travel to another place in an instant. It’s better to go there with friends. I’m grateful that instagram, and my friends are there to share those journeys as well.
This post is part of Instagram Travel Thursday. Click through for more details about the awesome hosts and come fly with me!