A Happy Accident

Sometimes, it is just better to be lucky than good. When photographing birds and wildlife, one can take all possible measures to maximize success. Regardless, there is a fair amount of luck involved with photographs. For instance, one can go to place well known for an abundance of wildlife and bird and still come away with little or nothing to show for the time invested. I have been tying to catch a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) in flight for some time. They are a constant around my house in winter and even cling to the side of the stucco in the corners of walls and sleep at night. Still, I have not been able to get one in flight. They are a fairly skittish bird as well, and that certainly doesn’t help. I was out this morning, and I am fortunate to live within about five minutes of a migratory bird refuge. The morning was slow and I was returning home with little of consequence to show for my time. Then, there, sitting on a fence post, on the side of the road (which is unusual) was a Flicker. I pulled to the side, shut off the car, and grabbed my camera. Fortunately, the Flicker stayed put and gave me a precious few moments in which to photograph it in different positions. Then as my finger pressed the shutter button for a profile shot — BAM! — the Flicker took to the air. If I had tried to time the take-off, I would have missed. A happy and fortuitous accident. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.