Off the Beaten Track

Brown Thrasher, Millennium Park, 4-24-13

Brown Thrasher, Millennium Park, 4-23-13

I want to take a moment to thank you all for encouraging me to do this! Before I started the blog I was approaching a point in my life when I realized I had to make decisions about how I was going to be spending whatever “free” time I have, as there is so little of it left to my own discretion. Maybe in the back of my mind I did realize that keeping up the blog was going to consume a lot of that time. There was an “oh no” moment when I wondered what I had gotten myself into, but it didn’t last long.

And the blog took a different turn than I had originally planned. It has strayed more than a bit from the music and is often more about the birds, and in particular, pictures of birds. But in pursuit of those pictures, I find myself even more connected to the original conception.

I never set out to be a photographer: I only wanted to capture the birds’ images. Looking at them through the lens and later developing the images continues to inform me of the nuances in appearance and behavior, and reinforces what I remember from my encounters with them.

Indeed, they are encounters. One reason why I love to go looking for birds alone is because there are often one-on-one exchanges between us, when we both become creatures inhabiting the same space for a moment, and we acknowledge each other’s presence: it’s a form of recognition, of greeting, of communication that I find so special I am drawn to seek further encounters, wherever and whenever they may occur.

And therein lies the magic of it all. By making photography part of the obsession, I now go out more often, have more encounters, learn more, and feel inspired by the whole quest. And lately I have had this feeling, which I know I should distrust, but that I am becoming perhaps just a little bit better at it, with the sounds and the sights, of birds. I will never approach the level of those who have been searching after birds their entire lives, or certainly anyone who has years more of field experience than I do, but it is indeed a cumulative thing, and every year I feel more confident, more informed, and all the more curious. I have to keep reminding myself never to assume I know anything because a bird will surprise me when I least expect it to.

The birds are watching us all the time. They are curious about us too. We’re all in this together.

White-Throated Sparrow, Millennium Park, 4-24-13

White-Throated Sparrow, Millennium Park, 4-24-13

14 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Track

  1. I love this post, Lisa. I really got hooked into photographing birds only about five years ago. I happened to get a nice shot of a House Finch. I was so proud, loved the color and pose that I happened into. I realized then that there were so many birds of different colors, etc. Before that, birds to me were limited to ducks, pigeons, sparrows. I didn’t know any thing about different species. Then when I decided to seek out more to photograph, then I got hooked on the bird aspect. After all, if I wanted to sell my work, I had to be able to say what the subject was. So, now I am an incurable birder and bird photographer. Each hobby complements the other. It can’t get any better than that. 🙂

    Your shot of the White-throated Sparrow is priceless. It depicts what you said in your last line. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Bob. The birds teach us to see more, hear more…and then they reward us with those serendipitous moments that make us just glad to be in their presence. It takes a lot of work to pay close attention, but when you’re doing something you love, it’s not work. 🙂

  2. Lisa, I’ve really been resonating with your observations about our interconnections in the bird world. And want to thank you for taking the leap of faith to follow up with your own telling. I notice more and more that when I am tense in the pursuit of a bird, they all sense it. And there is a noticeable reaction from the bird world when I remember to breathe, unkink, and to resume sharing the moment with gratitude for all that they are and give me. And almost immediately, they know that I am safe enough to resume their living and do more of what they were meant to do. And I get to see and hear them! I am believing more and more that this is not a coincidence or my imagination.

    • I may be a little more aware of the connections because I live with birds and feed them (I may even be part-bird by now)…but it still amazes me how much we can say to each other not being of the same species. I think it’s all about respect. The birds can sense when we approach them as equal inhabitants of this earth, and they respond in kind.

  3. By now most of my blog followers know I’m a bird nuts. I made a great turn in my life and found a great way to feel more in touch with nature, I picked the avians which I consider to be the musical flying flowers of Mother Nature and I learned how to care for them as well as admire them. Every photograph I take brings a smile to my face and another bit of happiness to my life.
    I appreciate your sincerity and humble honesty to share what you feel about those wonderful creatures. My dear Lisa you’re OK! 🙂

  4. Lisa: I love your photos and your last post was moving, as so many of them are. You are communing with the birds in such a beautiful way, and then sharing it with the rest of us as we sit at our desks or wherever the hell we are (where the birds arent). Thank you kindly.
    Peggy byrne

    • Thank you so much, Peggy! I’m touched. Perhaps not so coincidentally I was stuck at my desk when I wrote this post today. The birds are busy singing at dawn, no matter what the forecast, and they are calling to us to join them..

  5. Your photos show your obsession for birds..I love the white throsted Sparrow and the way you have captured him. I am not a photographer, but I am a Wildlife Artist, and birds are my favorite subjects to paint, plus I have bird feeders out. Your blogs are so fresh and full of life..keep up the good work..I love it and so do many others..

    • Thanks so much, Syl, for your beautiful thoughts. And for your art, and feeding the birds. I do think the White-Throated Sparrow recognized me as the lady who stopped by with the birdseed over the cold winter months…When I tried to reward him for the photo session the House Sparrows were on to me too and they’re like little gangbangers. 🙂

  6. Nice photography. And I like your description about bird encounters. There is some sort of magical, unspoken greeting or exchange that happens when you are near one that does make you want to seek it out again. 🙂

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