Boo! – January 2011

Shot of the Month – January 2011

Is it a new year already?  This weaver bird seems to share my surprise at completing another full rotation around the sun.

The amusing nature of this shot belies the unexpected danger in capturing it.  I shot this image while staying at a tented camp on the banks of the Lower Zambezi River in Zambia.

All the other guests, having eaten their lunch, had retired to their tents for some rest.  I took the opportunity to stalk around the campsite and see what I could photograph.  Our lunch table stood on a small nook of land that jutted slightly out into the river.  A simple railing separated the terrace from some reeds on the river bank.  During the meal I had noticed that this weaver bird liked coming to the reeds to collect building materials, presumably for a nest under construction.  I decided I would use this fellow to experiment with some flash photography techniques.  I think the flash may explain some of that startled look.

After taking the shot I turned around and was stunned to find a massive elephant standing only 25 feet away.  During my shoot several elephants had walked into the campsite to feed on fallen fruit and there was a nice collection of fruit near where I happened to be standing.   One of the largest elephants stood there and rocked back and forth in my direction.  Not a good sign.

I looked around for help.  Not a soul.  All of the staff had gone off for some rest or to work in the office.  Not a single guest to be found.  I surveyed my other escape routes.  Going forward was not possible as my little “peninsula” was blocked by a large, annoyed, hungry elephant.  I glanced back toward the reeds.  Below me was the river.  I could either leap into the water, or try a tricky jump into a small boat that was tied up not too far away.  Only Indian Jones could make that leap without breaking a few bones and/or flipping the boat into a watery heap.  All the same I threw one leg over the railing to keep my options open.

I looked at the elephant.  He looked at me.  I glanced at the river, measuring.  This seemed to go on for most of the afternoon.

Luckily, after a very long several minutes the elephant wandered off and began to forage on a different piece of land.  Whew.  I could now could hear my racing heart.

Perhaps the startled look on the weaver bird had less to do with me and more to do with what was standing just behind me.


Just another pretty picture… 🙂