As is always the case with these things, my camera was nowhere nearby, so I edged slowly to my tent, keeping an eye on the bird and begging it not to fly away. With a flash of red underwings, it hopped to a new branch. “PLEASE stay there!” I said as I ducked into my tent. But by the time I’d retrieved my camera and hurried back, it was gone. I grabbed our camp bird book and flipped through it until I found my new friend: Schalow’s Turaco. “Look!” I told everyone in camp later that day, “look what I saw!” “…Riiiight” everyone replied.
Months passed. I took pictures of dozens of amazing animals, birds included, but I never forgot the turaco. If I could just get one picture of it, I could convince myself that what I had seen was real. But the Mara had given me one tantalizing look at this beautiful creature, and now it seemed I would never see one again.
One day, I was once again seated at the lab table, this time with Robyn and Emily working nearby. My gaze wandered away from my computer to the trees that edged our camp. Something moved in the high branches of a tree, silhouetted against the sky. As it fluttered to a new perch, I caught a glimpse of red underwings. “TURACO!” I shouted, diving for my camera. “What? What???” Robyn and Emily said, as I sprinted towards the tree where I’d seen my quarry. I snapped picture after picture, but the bird remained elusive. The photos came out backlit, blurry, or blocked by leaves. With one final flap, the turaco vanished and I was left with a handful of lousy pictures and a new goal in life: take one beautiful picture of a turaco. I was Ahab, and that bird was my Moby Dick.
|Close, but not quite!|
|Getting better, but still not what I wanted. Note the twig in its beak!|