Photographs by Frank

30 June 2014

Coastal Maine Trip, Part V (Hog Island Merlins)

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — Frank @ 8:00 PM

Part IV is here.

One Afternoon in the Life of a Wildlife Photographer, or… Waiting for Merlin.

Based on A True Story  —  A Play in One Scene

Cast:

  • Hoary wildlife photographer… bearded and pony-tailed, dressed for the field and carrying camera with a large telephoto lens mounted on a tripod.
  • Male merlin
  • Female merlin
  • Small song bird, recently deceased (exact species is the male merlin’s choice)
  • Mosquito Ensemble (as many as the production budget will allow; there can not be too many)

 

The Scene:

A narrow clearing in the woods near the Audubon Camp on Hog Island in Maine. A trail enters the clearing at the near (downstage) end. At the far (upstage) end of the clearing is a tall snag that ends in an inverted “L”.

The weather is warm and humid. The skies are a flat gray.

 

The Action (There is no dialog):

Approximately 1:30 PM…

Photographer enters the near end of the clearing, sets up his camera/tripod and points it at the top of the snag. He fiddles with the camera and lens for a short time, applies a liberal coating of “bug stuff” to self and proceeds to stand quietly next to his camera.

For the next two-and-a-half hours…

Photographer occasionally looks through the viewfinder or checks a setting on the camera.

Photographer regularly swats at the cloud of mosquitoes that has assembled around him.

Once during this interval a merlin is heard to call briefly from stage right.

At 4:09 PM…

Female merlin enters stage right, lands on the snag and, during the next eight minutes, she spends time looking around in various direction and twice she calls.

At 4:17 PM…

Female merlin exits stage right.

At 4:25 PM…

Female merlin enters stage right and lands on snag.

At 4:27 PM…

Female merlin exits stage right.

At 4:41:49 PM…

Raucous merlin calls are heard from both stage left and stage right. Photographer comes to full attention and peers into camera.

At 4:41:59 PM…

Male merlin enters stage left carrying the small song bird and lands on the snag. (See the first photo below.)

Photographer makes a burst of photographs over the next five seconds.

At 4:42:00 PM…

Female merlin enters stage right, snatches the song bird from the male nearly knocking him form his perch and exits stage left. (See the second photo below.)

Merlin calls cease.

Male merlin regains his grasp on the perch and begins to preen. (See the third photo below.)

Photographer makes an additional four or five exposures over the next three minutes. (See the fourth photo below.)

At 4:45 PM…

Male merlin exits stage left.

At 4:46 PM…

Photographer packs up gear, shoulders tripod and jauntily exits down the trail whence he entered.

Curtain!

 

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Male Merlin with Prey (4:41:59 PM)
Male Merlin with Prey (4:41:59 PM)
Merlin Pair with Prey (less than 1 second later)
Merlin Pair with Prey (less than 1 second later)
Male Merlin Preening (4:44:13 PM)
 Male Merlin Preening (4:44:13 PM)
Male Merlin (4:44:33 PM), just before he flew off)
Male Merlin (4:44:33 PM), just before he flew off)

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