"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, June 28, 2019

Notes from Denali: The Good Samaritan

This is going to be an epic shot!   I’m as close as I’ve ever been to a red-necked phalarope and conditions are perfect.  
This is a “lifer” bird for me.

I stopped the truck on the road by a pond that’s right next to it.   The right tires MIGHT be off the pavement.   Leilani waits in the truck while I slink out and set the camera on a small pillow on the hood.   I’d rather be on the ground, sitting or kneeling, but with the skittish phalaropes, I take what I can get.

The red-necked phalarope is lower left.   Above it is an American tree sparrow.  This is the same place, but not the same day as this story relates.

I’m ready, focus locked, waiting for the right moment.

The long golden rays of the evening sun find a way through the scattered clouds and are shining on this little patch of water.   No wind, so I might even get a bit of reflection.

Only seven inches long, phalaropes feed in a frenzy of stabbing and jabbing, darting and diving at insects.  They frequently spin in circles, which is thought to raise invertebrates near the water’s surface. 

All I need is for the bird to turn slightly left so the sun will put a spark of light in its eye and transform  those chestnut throat feathers to burnished copper.

Wait for it….

Wait for it….

Wait for…

"ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!!!”   booms a voice across the tundra and with it, my hopes of the epic shot.  The little phalarope flies away on its wings and my prayer.

Leilani responds in the affirmative; I say nothing.  The speaker is one of a group of bicycle tourists that we have seen along the road.   She means well, I’m sure.   Why else would someone be parked ON the road if they weren’t in need of assistance?

Well, there IS that camera thing and that long lens….

The bicycle group going canoeing after dinner.


  1. "Wait for it .. Wait for it .. Wait for it," and then someone wants to know if YOU ARE ALL RIGHT??? Sigh . . . but with a smile from your friends visiting in Siberia. Patti and Cap

  2. Gullible yours truly is confused. In your first photo up at the top of this post, you show a red-necked phalarope in the lower left of said first photo.

    So you DID get your 'lifer' photo of the red-necked phalarope. Correct? AND then you were set up for another (hoped for) excellent photo of said bird when THAT photo opportunity was shot-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket by the booming voice. Just wondering IF I got it correct.

    Smiling Cap and Hugs from Patti.

    1. As the caption under the photo says, "The red-necked phalarope is lower left. Above it is an American tree sparrow. This is the same place, but not the same day as this story relates."

      Same place, different day. Still a lifer, but not as good as the one I missed.