Mattresses, Shoes and Binoculars

I had the pleasure recently of meeting a lady named Barb. She approached me as I was watching and photographing an active Osprey nest on the Southern Branch of the  Elizabeth. We struck up a conversation. I shared with her that I was with the Elizabeth River Project, that I monitor Osprey nests on the river and elsewhere, and that two nestlings were about to fledge from the nest I was watching. ‘Any day now’, I excitedly told her.


She expressed an interest in seeing the nest. So I grabbed my binoculars from the back of my truck and gave them to her. It was a ‘WOW’ experience. She seemed to be as wonderstruck at the vision as I so often am when I watch birds navigating their daily lives.

Buying Binoculars

She asked me about buying binoculars. I gave her this advice. Buy 8×42 bins. They’re the best for birding. Great 8x magnification and a wide field of view. But don’t skimp. Plan on spending several hundred dollars or more. Consider the purchase of binoculars the way you’d consider the purchase of a mattress or pair of shoes. Few purchases we make are as important. Mattresses support us when we’re asleep, and shoes support us when we’re awake. I told her to think of optics purchases the same way. She appreciated the advice. Hopefully, it will serve her well.

Birds Are Determined

I took this photo of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron off Bainbridge Ave. in Chesapeake. The water you see is a creek that flows into the Elizabeth River. The area is a no man’s land of sorts. But it’s always interesting. What we consider no man’s lands, birds and other wildlife often seem to consider suitable habitat. It’s as if they were oblivious.


One often gets the sense when observing birds in places like this that they don’t see the problems so apparent to us, or that they’re resolved to make the best of a difficult situation, or that they’re just plain determined to live and to thrive no matter what. Habitat loss, contaminated water, soil degradation, so what? Well not really. Maybe there’s something else going on here. Maybe birds, much like the Elizabeth River Project Board, staff, and partners, and like so many of us, are hopeful. Maybe, just maybe, THEY dream big too.

All of this leads me to this thought. Birds are emblematic of determination. Remember the Eastern Kingbird?


This is perhaps yet another reason, and a very good reason at that, to go bird watching. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from them. If we can learn from ants, and ants do have much to teach us, we can surely learn from birds.

Take another look at the heron photo. You may have noticed this already, but there’s another tire in the background. Yikes. I love these kinds of photos because they tell stories. You WANT your photographs to tell stories. Here are a few more photos that do just that. The first tells a story about the health of the Elizabeth. The second tells a story about the blessing of freedom.




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