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The One That Got Away, Until It Didn't

Most photographers have dream shots in mind. A specific landscape, a subject, something that they have pictured in their mind and hope to achieve one day. For me, with birds and wildlife, I have a few shots that I have always hoped to get. A good photo of a Cerulean Warbler was high on my list. Only in the area for a few weeks as they migrate north in the spring, ceruleans are a particularly elusive warbler. Tiny, usually found high up in the tree canopy darting and flitting behind leaves, I have spent hours trying to catch more than a blur -or the southern end of a north-bound bird.

Today, as I often do, I checked out a spot where Cerulean Warblers had been reported. I'd caught a few glimpses of them on other days, I'd heard their call, but never gotten that shot. The portrait shot. The one with a clear sharp eye, nice lighting, no harsh shadows, no branches blocking the bird. Honestly, I'd have settled for only part of that wish list. I looked (and listened) for the warbler's distinctive song, but finally walked away to look for other birds and wildlife. On my way back to the car a few hours later, I noticed a photographer intently watching something in the area where I'd heard the warblers earlier.

I walked over and there he was. The Cerulean Warbler. At first he was still on a leafy branch, but mostly visible, and close to eye level. I fired the shutter rapidly, excited to be this close. Seconds later, the warbler hopped off the branch. I thought that would be the end of his photo session for the day. Rather than fly behind the cover of leaves again, he landed on a bare branch right in front of us. He was only there, flitting about, for a few seconds, but I got my shot. THE shot. Actually I got a few lovely shots, but here is my favorite (for now).

My dream Cerulean Warbler shot. Isn't he beautiful?

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