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I’ve described my drives through rural Arizona’s farmlands as hours of boredom punctuated by a few seconds of adrenaline rush. The roads that I traverse regularly are flat, monotonous, and often, choking with dust. Sometimes I’ll drive for two hours or more without seeing anything worth photographing. Then, suddenly, there’s something really exciting. I instantly forget about my boredom and there ensues moments where I’m holding my breath and praying that my subject doesn’t fly or run off before I can maneuver my car into position for me to photograph it. The elation that I experience when everything works easily makes all of the hours of dull driving and boredom worth it.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago. I had been driving all morning and had not seen anything that I cared to photograph. I’d reached the turn-around point of my trip and stopped my car for a moment so that I could plan my route back. As I was sitting there, I looked out of my passenger side window — and there, about 15 feet (just over 4 meters) away from me was a Greater Roadrunner, sitting on an old and decaying wooden fence post.
I could hardly believe it. The lighting was perfect, the perch pretty photogenic, and the roadrunner was practically asking me to take its picture. The bird was so close that I had to change my focus limiter switch on my camera so that it would focus on the roadrunner.
Nevertheless, I held my breath as I prepared to photograph the bird. I had to roll down the passenger side window in order to take the picture. The sound of a car window rolling down often spooks subjects and I was concerned that this roadrunner would leave before I could get the window down. Nope, it stayed put. Possibly, in response to my presence, it raised its crest and vocalized a bit as I sat there. Roadrunners don’t say “Meep meep,” by the way, they utter a soft “coo-coo” sound, fittingly, because these birds are members of the cuckoo family.
The roadrunner continued to pose for me as I took image after image. Finally, after about 30 seconds, it crouched briefly, then hopped off the post and disappeared into the dense brush nearby.
The experience made my day. I didn’t see much else that morning. But, I was elated during the entire nearly two-hour drive home. The adrenaline rush was definitely worth the boredom.
Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm DO II lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f5.6 @ 1/3200.