Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/09/27

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Subject: [Leica] National Geographic
From: telyt at (Doug Herr)
Date: Mon Sep 27 05:51:53 2004

on 9/26/04 9:49 PM, Kit McChesney at wrote:

> Doug--
> Please do, and I was also going to say, 'No wonder Ted Grant drinks
> Lagavulin!' 
> Kit 
> Doug Herr <> wrote:
> on 9/26/04 9:40 PM, Ted Grant at wrote:
>> I was on my way to the flight line when across the snow I saw "wild life!"
>> WOW! A white arctic fox running in my direction, so I shot a few frames
> with
>> a 200 mm lens then switched to a wider he kept running towards me.
>> Now I'm thinking ... Jeeeeeeeess how lucky can I get with this little guy
>> coming right to me. :-)  Lots more frames as he closed in.
> Have I mentioned the Blue Grouse on this list?
> Doug Herr
> Birdman of Sacramento

Part of my extended youth was spent working at seasonal jobs in US national
parks, as close to home as Yosemite and Death Valley, and as disparate as
Everglades in Florida and Denali in Alaska.  Denali was my favorite; six of
my summers were in the far north.

Each spring I migrated along with my favorite subjects from wherever I had
wintered to interior Alaska.  A couple of times I simply hopped on a
commercial airliner and -whoosh- a few hours later I was in Anchorage, where
I'd take a bus to my summer job.  This form of transportation didn't give me
a sense of the scale of the place, which is enormous beyond the imagination
of any who've not experienced it, so I varied my commute in later years.
The Alaska state ferry system provides a reasonable means of traversing the
state's largely aquatic and mountainous panhandle.  Southern terminals at
Seattle Washington and Prince Rupert BC carry passengers and vehicles as far
north as Haines Junction, where interior Alska is a short hop skip and jump
through a bit of BC and Yukon.

This particular spring (in my pre-Leica days) I used the Ferry.  Arriving in
Haines early in the day I endeavored to make the most of the long daylight
hours.  After over a week of travel from California, Denali and my summer
home was only 20 hours away.  Traffic was light out of Haines and by the
time I reached the northwest tip of BC where the road changed to gravel,
there were essentially no other cars on the road.  Rounding a curve, I
spotted a Blue Grouse in the road.  I wanted to make some distance but OTOH
I had no photos of the Blue Grouse so I stopped in the middle of the road to
prepare my camera.  Once I had the 300mm lens ready I looked up and say that
the bird was GONE.  Thinking I may have gotten too close, I backed the car
10 feet or so, then another ten feet, but still no bird.

While preparing the camera I had enough peripheral vision that I would have
seen the grouse fly off the road so at this point I was mystified.  I got
out of the car, 300mm lens in hand, for a look around.  I found the grouse
when he ran out from under the car and attacked my legs.  I looked at the
grouse, looked at the 300mm lens (minimum focus 13') and eventually relaized
this lens wouldn't do.  I don't have the photos scanned right now but
perhaps I can make some quick scans this evening.  As it turned out the 55mm
macro lens was a better tool.

For a half-hour or so I made several photos while the grouse bit my pants
pummelled my legs with his wings and uttered such terrifying things as
"wwwukwukwuk".  This was great fun but I had places to go and daylight was
a-wasting so I put the camera back in the car and prepared to get on my way.
Trouble is, the grouse didn't see it that way.

I tried just getting in the car and shutting the door but the grouse
contined the attack, jumping in the car with me.  I thought I could just
jump in and slam the door but then I had vision of closing the door on the
front half o the bird... and even if I could get the door between myself and
my attacker, he'd run back under the car where he'd end up wearing Michelin

Out of the car again...  tried reasoning with him, man to bird, at his
level.  No go, he jumped on my knee and attacked my coat.  I grabbed him and
pomdered my options.  About this time another car came by.  I thought I
might transfer the bird's attention to these new victims and I could be on
my way but alas they knew too much about the Blue Grouse.  They had a good
laugh, smiled and waved and drove on past.

I had been training for a half-marathon later that summer so I went down the
road a ways, dropped the bird and made a run for the car, leaving the bird
in the dust - or so I thought.  What I failed to realize is that Blue Grouse
have sprinter's flight muscles, here I had been training for distance race.

Next I tried simply picking the bird up and tossing him over the roadside
snow bank.  Six times.  Finally the grouse got the message and I went on my
way, the memory of the morning no doubt playing big role in my ability drive
wide awake for the next 18 hours to Denali.

Doug Herr
Birdman of Sacramento

Replies: Reply from ericm at (Eric) ([Leica] Re: National Geographic)
Reply from Jim at (Jim Hemenway) ([Leica] Blue Grouse)
In reply to: Message from leicagalpal at (Kit McChesney) ([Leica] National Geographic)