Every photographer has a number of closet species he/she hopes to get a great photograph of, and those species usually haunt them for a good number of years, sometimes even a lifetime. I am no different, maybe with one exception; I have loads of closet species I dream about photographing!
I have however, managed to tick one off the list – the African Purple Swamphen.
It is not a well-known bird outside of the birding community, and certainly doesn’t carry the majesty of the eagles or the grace of the cranes, but the chicken sized bird is easily one of the most beautiful birds when it decides to show itself. The African purple swamphen is not an extremely rare bird, but they do live in the reeds along the waters edge, making a clear look at them very tricky; not impossible, but almost impossible…
After many years of trying and waiting, I finally had the breakthrough I was hoping for. I was alone at a quiet hide (referring the lack of birds/action/anything) on a rather chilly winters morning, feeling sorry for myself, when a head popped out the reeds, and into the sunlight. I swung the camera over, desperate to get any photograph for that morning, and looked a swamphen straight in the eye!
He cautiously and kindly walked his extremely large feet out into the open. I clicked a few decent clicks, and then he went back into the reeds, and disappeared. Fantastic!
I was chuffed and satisfied thinking it couldn’t get better with such a shy bird, but how wrong I was.
A half an hour later, the swamphen, who had moved through the reeds to the far side of the water, wanted to start his loop again, but instead of making the arduous trip back though the reeds, he took flight, aimed straight towards me! A couple of shutter filled seconds later, he was sitting right in front of me, as casual as you like! I never dreamed of such a clear, close-up look at this magnificent bird. I left with some great images, and a new challenge: the next species to tick off the list…