I spotted the hawk from about 50 feet away, perched on a dead tree where he could watch over the Central Florida marsh as if he ruled the place.
I stopped about 30 feet back, and stood as still as I could, hoping for a chance at a photo if this elegant Red-shouldered Hawk decided to take off.
And then I waited. First through an easy 10 minutes, then another 15 not-so-easy minutes, then at least 10 more interminable minutes. I watched as he swiveled his head, glanced up and down and fluffed his feathers without giving a clue to his intentions. As the sweat dripped down my back, I started thinking about giving up.
Birding is a lesson in patience on so many fronts. There are days when all you hear are calls from distant branches. There are mornings when the birds are always backlit or camouflaged. There are whole afternoons when not one bird makes a sound.
I like to think it’s all part of the curriculum that comes with the birds. At a time when we’re so attention deprived, birding is a graduate course in alternative time.