This week’s photo, taken April 6, 2013 at Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill) in Seattle, WA, features an adult male CINNAMON TEAL in breeding plumage.
Now and then, we miss some of life’s greatest treasures because we are looking too far ahead. Saturday morning at the “Fill,” I am hoping to find some attractive birds to photograph, and if they happen to be new birds for the year, that would be a nice bonus. At Main Pond I hear the “witchity, witchity, witchity” song of my first-of-the-year COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and soon I spot the bright yellow throat and dark facial mask of this small warbler as it sits deep in the brush. This songbird, however, is not at all interested in coming out into the open for a photo shoot.
I move on to Dime Lot Pond, where a few NORTHERN SHOVELERS, BUFFLEHEADS and MALLARDS float on the water’s surface. Above and all around me, several VIOLET-GREEN and TREE SWALLOWS zig-zag through the sky. I like a good challenge, so I tilt my head back and attempt to photograph the swallows as they race by. Basically, it’s an exercise in frustration because the moment I get my camera’s autofocus on a swallow, the fast-moving bird abruptly changes course and I lose my target before I have a chance to take the shot. After several minutes, I lower my head to give my neck muscles some relief, and that’s when I notice my first-of-the-year CINNAMON TEAL standing in inch-deep water a few feet ahead of me. I nearly missed this stunningly beautiful duck because I was gazing off in the distance. Sometimes, we benefit greatly when we shift our focus to what is right in front of us.