Expect the Unexpected

As an English teacher I taught students that a good essay should have a theme, an idea that tied all the details together. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I try to do the same thing in most of my blog entries, even if it is nothing more than making a point about a particular flower or a particular bird. In fact, the most common cause for not posting every day, besides pure laziness, is my inability to come up with a theme.

I suspect one of the reasons we value structure and order so highly is that much of life is purely chaotic. Things just happen, but we feel better if we can impose a cause on random events.

My recent trip seemed ample proof of that. Almost everything I planned turned out to be a disappointment, but the trip as a whole was successful because of so many unplanned surprises. The best part of the trip were things that were discovered in route, not things I had anticipated for years.

Visiting Tule National Wildlife Refuge was definitely a last-minute decision, one based on its nearness and on not seeing many birds the rest of the trip. I wasn’t going there to see a particular bird, but just stopped by to see what, if anything, was there.

There were a lot of egrets and grebes, so I focused on them on my first two entries. My favorite pictures were all singletons, though, except for two shots of Red-Tailed Hawks. Leslie got this shot of Red-Tailed Hawk that had obviously become accustomed to people driving by,


while I got this shot of another one who seemed to circle to check us out.


I certainly wouldn’t drive a thousand miles to photograph a Red-Tailed Hawk since they’re just down the road, but I liked both of these shots.

I hadn’t seen White-Faced at Ibis when I was there before, and there were only a few strays at Tule, but I liked this shot of one landing right in front of us a lot.


Finally, I couldn’t resist getting another shot of Black-Necked Stilt even though they were too far away to get a really good shot.


It was only later in front of the computer that I realized those birds in front of the pair had to be juvenile Black-Necked Stilt, a bird I’d never photographed, or seen, before. When you’re too focused on one thing, you’re very likely to miss something even more interesting.