Thursday, 9 April 2015

B.O.T.D. Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)

To photograph birds is to sweat and swat flies, to stand for long hours waist-deep in swamp water, or to crouch even longer in freezing makeshift blinds. Allan Cruickshank knew these tortures. As one of America's leading bird photographers, Cruickshank expected the worst.

Them along came a marbled goodwill to make his life easy. Tawny like the grass that engulfed her, the mottled female was nearly invisible against the hollow of beaten-down grasses that holder four olive eggs. When Cruickshank approached, the bird scurried away. He built a blind and almost immediately, the bird returned. Perhaps, he hoped he would not need a blind. Perhaps this beautifully camouflaged shorebird - known for "sitting tight" while unknowing predators walked just inches away - would allow him to approach. This bird did that and more. To Cruickshank's amazement, his docile subject even allowed him to pick her up while he photographed the nest.

All that changed overnight, however. As soon as her eggs hatched the goodwill reacted hysterically to Cruickshank's presence, flying this way and that and berating him loudly before leading her young from the nest. Never again would the goodwill allow Cruickshank's approach. But the man had his pictures - and in contrast to most such projects, getting them had literally been a walk in the park.

Cornell Lab: Marbled Godwit
Reader's Digest: Birds of North America