Wildlife Photography from the Midwest USA

A Robin on the Road

So I was driving down a quiet country road at about 5 kph
(for local readers, this is the road at Maumee Bay State Park beyond the inn where the cabins are)
while scoping for deer in the deep dense fog during an early morning photo adventure.

A Robin was sitting in the other lane, kind of crouched down, motionless, head cocked to the left, and I didn’t think much of it because I’d already seen Robins this year, even in the dead of Winter, and I drove right on by. Several feet later I found a woodchuck and totally missed the standing-on-hind-legs pose but got to photograph her walking through the snow-covered weeds for a good while.

Much later I got to the end of the road, a cul-de-sac, and made the turnaround. I could see through the fog into the golf course and low-lying fields, sparse forest, trails and walkways, but no deer.

Several minutes later I got back to the Robin, now in my lane, kind of crouched down, motionless, head cocked to the left, and instantly I understood: it was dead, frozen stiff from one of the many horrible sub-zero cold snaps we’ve had as of late. Although I don’t normally like to photograph dead things, this one was fresh… good color, no disturbance in the feathers, eyes open, and I figured I’d better take a picture so I left my vehicle running and got out into the relative cold.

I crouched down to take a few pictures but noticed I needed to get lower in order to try to be at eye level. More pictures, more crouching. Eventually, I had my sweatshirt-covered elbows resting on the wet pavement but when I went to get the shot, the camera would not focus. Too close. Minimum focus with the 100-400mm lens I was using is 1.8 meters (about 5 feet), and if the lens won’t focus then the camera won’t fire. So I scootched back, on my hands and knees, and took my best shot.

Just then I looked over my shoulder and saw a service vehicle coming my way with headlights glowing through the fog. He saw me. I was really in no danger because he was traveling very slowly and I saw he was smiling at me, perhaps because I was photographing this dead bird that he had seen many times while traveling this same road for many days in a row. Even so, I wanted to move so he wouldn’t run over my ankles. When I stood up, the Robin flew away.

A Robin on The Road


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