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Old May 25, 2004, 10:52 PM   #1
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I was out photographing birds, focusing on capturing flight when from out of the muck appeared what looked like a huge muskrat to me. He attacked.

I was doing my best to scoot slowly down an embankment to get closer to the light bluish and black birds posted below who were perched on posts enjoying worm morsels they had caught in the pond. I would scoot a few feet on my rear end, sliding a bit here and a bit there, then take a photo, then slip a few more feet until my feet were touching the edge of the mucky pond. I kept pressing the shutter, again and again, click, click, when I heard a brief rustling to my right. Glancing in the direction of the sound I saw, to my surprise, staring right into my eyes with his beady little black marbles, the irate Rat in the photo below.

I was at aperture 2.8 and had a 70-200 but did my best to twist around quickly and take a few shots. I had enough time to click off 2, then he attacked!He thrust forward andnearly landedon top of me, carrying an expression that wasboth angry and terrified -- I'm sure I had a similar expression but with the anger replaced by adrenalin -- then hetwisted like a flying Walenda and dove headlong into the muck, disappearing in slowdark frothybubbles, never to rise again. I lept up myself,probably asfast as that furry critter had moved,andthen shuffled my jittery feetup the embankment far enough to feel safe, just in case this maniacflyer without wings appeared again in a non-wingedflying furyout of the dark reed mire.

Whew, it made my evening! With rushes (and not bull rushes)like that all of the bad photos don't seem so important.

Birds thatI was photographing prior to the Rat Attack are immediately below; it was really hard trying to get exposure on the eyes without blowing out the background totally. I know the contrast isn't high enough but I needed to keep it down in order to get some detail response from the wings and wooden post. (please identify, I'm sure they are common but I can't specifically find them in the meager booklets I have).

Edit: Forget it, I just found it; it's a Black Tern, right up to it's color and activity.



The RAT (I had to lighten this substantially as I had no time to alter the exposure which was set to photograph "sky" backlighting, not swamp).



What I consider to be my most successful flight capture of the evening, and I believe it's that Willet I've been photographing (with the pretty wings). Unfortunately I was at ISO 400 when I probably could have been lower but forgot that I was that high:



Anyway, that was my evening, perhaps not the best photographically, but the adrenalin rush was excellent and well worth the less than successful photos!



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Old May 25, 2004, 11:10 PM   #2
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wow! cool story!!! unbelievable!...if i didn't know you were an honest man...i'm not sure i'd believe you..that shot of the muskrat makes him seem like a sweet little critter..actually..now that i look at him..he has an evil look in his eyes...lol

nice shots
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Old May 25, 2004, 11:16 PM   #3
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I didn't expect him to attack either, but I can guarantee you that he did, if leaping forward right at my body can be interpreted as an attack. I expected him to take off in the opposite direction and my greatest worry was whether or not I'd be able to get a decent shot of him before he did take off. He quickly altered my priorities. I wasn't using a flash either...maybe it was that big white lens staring at his face. Let's blame Canon's choice of color. They need to make their lenses less obvious for both animals and man. Just kidding...I think.

I know that you believe me, vito, so don't misinterpret this confirmation of the "second" shot I got off. Here it is, not lightened, and just before -- or while -- he attacked. It's just not as good a shot, but is a good case in point.


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Old May 26, 2004, 1:44 PM   #4
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I'm not as good as I could be with Willets, but I think you're right about it. And a lovely shot too. Very well done.

Eric
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Old May 27, 2004, 12:24 AM   #5
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Thanks eric s, I love the wing colors on this bird and was happy to get them working with minor blur.
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