Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Spoonful of Shoe Gear

When I visited San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary Friday, Dec. 7th, the place was just so darn muddy that my regular hiking shoes were covered with sticky, dark soil. I gave them a thorough washing as soon as I got home yesterday. They were still wet when I checked them this morning.

When we decided to chase after the Roseate Spoonbill Saturday, I had no choice but to wear my back-up hiking shoes. These were not as comfortable as my regular ones and little did I know that they would be used for walking great distances (for me, a mile is considered "great distance") and clambering up and down steep levees while carrying a ton of camera gear on my shoulder. Needless to say, my feet and ankles (not to mention my shoulder) were complaining bitterly by the end of our twitching day.

Not only were my feet complaining, my photographer heart was aching as well. I am sort of a schizophrenic in a certain way. I am both a birder and a bird photographer. And there are times, such as today, when these two aspects of my life war against each other. The birder in me was rejoicing because I added Platalea ajaja to my lifelist. However, the photographer side of me was frustrated by not being able to get a good picture of the Spoonbill.

Yesterday, I was talking with Monte Stinett, another birder cum photographer, while waiting for the rare wader to show up. The conversation turned to the time we got started on our hobbies. Monte explained that he is a photographer first and foremost and enjoyed birds as his subject. Rather than just having a picture of a "little brown bird" he researched as to what kind it was, where is its habitat, etc, etc. and consequently got hooked into birding. I, on the other hand, was a birder first, having started while I was still in my teens in the Philippines. It was my desire to record in print the images of the species I have seen that steered me towards photography.

That said, I'd say the birder in me has the stronger emotional stimuli, especially if a lifer has been seen. That there's always a chance of getting a better photograph of such and such bird in the future has been my rationalization for moments like today.

Bad shoes and bad photographs notwithstanding, the Roseate Spoonbill was now added to my growing list of birds seen in my lifetime.

No comments: