Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/11/30

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Subject: [Leica] Bird Watching and Bird Pictures
From: Marc James Small <>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 19:58:45 -0500

As Roy Zartarian, Epic Lugger, will tell you, birds are quite elusive and
hard to locate.  When you find them, they seem to shy away from having
Large Tubular Objects such as camera lenses -- and rifles! -- pointed at
them.  This is what makes bird watching a real feast as well as a royal pain.

I visited the tidal flatlands of Virginia over Thanksgiving.  The weather
was supposed to be cloudy and dank, so I brought not my vaunted Leica
APO-Televid, foolish me.  But I did have a couple of Zeiss binoculars and
my trusted M6 set and, of course, the 2.8GX Rolleiflex.  

On Thursday, I was driving along the Colonial Parkway towards Yorktown when
I came upon a couple of Trumpeter Swans parked at one of the inlets -- the
one just north of King's Creek, and I cannot recall the name.  It is a
broad, barely briney estuary.  Two Swans, two Canadian Geese, one of the
Geese perched on a log and the others swimming about.  The Goose in the
water was defensive towards all comers -- and then my escort, the charming
Cyndi, noted that the Goose on the log had an oil-soaked wing and the other
was protecting it from both the Swans and Yrs. Trly.  

The Swans were playful -- they are not uncommon in the York and James
estuaries, but are normally quite skitterish about Outsiders, and only let
Humans, and other such folks, approach to within a hundred yards (yeah,
yeah, a hundred meters for the Imperially Challenged among our number, Ted)
or so.  These two were of a different bent.  They splashed, and preened,
and swam about, dove for food, and showed off some more.  They were
strutting their stuff.  

I had Kodachrome.  I had a Leica.  I had lenses, 1.4/35 to 4.8/280 (DAMN!
Why didn't I bring that 5/400!).  I shot a roll.  The Swans liked the
binoculars.  They loved the camera.  They showed off.  These guys were
Hollywood Hams if ever such existed.  It was warm, and sunny, and clear,
and they were in fine form.

The film is in the shaky hands of Kodak, who have never failed to process
Kodachrome for me promptly and well.  This shoot was a tough enough one, as
it can be terribly deceiving to shoot over water -- water is much darker
than it seems to the nekkid eye, and light meters do not always properly
register the ambient light.  But, my errors and Kodak's being there, I am
praying that THIS roll will come out.  

I have never seen anything like this before, and I used to live in this
neck of the woods, back in my poor student days.  The Charming Cyndi was
quite upset about the Goose's wing until I assured her that either the wing
would, eventually, dry itself -- the bird WAS dipping it occasionally -- or
the Park Police would grab the bird and clean it off.  (Yes, they DO do
this, one of those environmentally friendly services which even the worst
gummits occasionally are caught commiting.)

And then the Charming Cyndi and I took a ferry ride from Jamestown to
Surrey to get some Peanut Soup at the Surrey House, a rare and delicate
Virginia treat (Oh, you poor westerners!  You deprived Canadians!  Yes,
Campbell's DOES make a "peanut" soup, but, trust me, the Gwaltney's make it
a work of art.)  Cyndi happens to have a sea-captain's license (I DO date
some fascinating women!), so her commentary, tart at times, over the
boat-driving was a bit fascinating.  But the Gulls flocked all about, and I
shot those with PPF (Kodak Pro 400), and those DID come out -- I even
entrusted these to the tender mercies of my local pro lab, and they came
out most wonderfully.  Gulls, and wake, and a golden sunset.

It was a day from heaven, for me as a photographer and for me as an avian
enquirer.  (No, no, guys!  Cyndi SAID she had a good time, but men never
know:  after all, she IS a Contaflex photographer!)  And the day was topped
with a wonderful dinner, sans photographs, at the Williamsburg Inn, replete
with Beef Wellington and a rather interesting Chilean Merlot.

I wish I had brought my Televid.  Hell -- I wish I'd had my Klepper Aerius
along.  These birds were in the mood to play around a bit, and it would
have been a blast to have been able to join in their antics.

Marc  FAX:  +540/343-7315
Cha robh bas fir gun ghras fir!