Anyone else miss a chance to document a truly epic observation?

An photo I wish I had gotten was when I was fishing and there was a water snake swimming down stream with a trout about a third of the length of it’s body in it’s mouth


I knew tiger snakes could swim but I had never thought of them catching fish until I saw this photo. It’s not 1/3 of the length of the snake, but an amazing photo nonetheless.


So, so many. Only just started using iNaturalist and I have so many species where I either have no photo or only have blurry photos… most notably, though:

  • White-Nosed Coatis (2 sightings)
  • Gunnison’s Prairie Dog (1 sighting
  • Mantled Howler Monkey (1 sighting)
  • American Ermine (1 sighting)
  • Coyote (1 sighting)
  • Harbor Seal (Many sightings)
  • Harbor Porpoise (1 sighting)
  • Eyelash Palm Pit Viper (1 sighting)

On the bright side, I have dredged up more than a few photos from when I was only 12 that show, with remarkable clarity, a number of species I had completely forgotten to add to my life list.


In a way this is horrible but…
I was watching Eastern Bluebirds foraging in a hedgerow in our front yard and turned my camera off thinking I was done for the day. A Sharp-shinned Hawk swept over my shoulder, brushing my check with a wing tip and snatched up one of the bluebirds. It landed on the grass in front of me to adjust its grip. The bluebird gave me one last accusatory look and before I could turn on my camera the hawk swept away with the bluebird.

I was stunned and couldn’t believe I didn’t get a photo. I also felt guilty about the bluebird because they had been using a nest box we placed along the hedgerow so I kind of felt like we set the bird up to be hawk food.

But it was an extraordinary encounter and I still regret being unable to photograph it.
One of many once-in-a-lifetime moments I’ve missed photographing for one reason or another.
It never fails that I see extraordinary things when I don’t have my camera (or when the battery is dead or the memory card is full) and rarely see anything as amazing when I am ready and able to take a photograph.

Like today. I went out early to get migratory bird photos and saw exactly zip. Walked back to the house a few hours later and the entire front yard was littered with birds of all sizes and descriptions. And they all scattered and flew off the moment I arrived. I don’t even know what most of them were except a few looked like they might be warblers.

I could have slept late and wandered out in my slippers with a cup of coffee in one hand and my camera in the other and gotten the photos I wanted. But nooooooo. I had to get up at 5am and walk a mile to see…nada.


And… if your workflow includes taking the card out, putting it in a reader for your desktop to move files onto your hard drive… DON’T FORGET TO PUT IT BACK IN THE CAMERA WHEN DONE! (Man, I’ve been nicked by this too many times. But I usually have a spare in my wallet. Still…)


Been there, done that. More than once…


I missed some epic shots of Orcas a couple of weeks ago. I usually take my camera with me everywhere but as the days have been getting shorter I had stopped carrying it when I take my dog out early in the pre-dawn light. While walking I could suddenly hear the loud expirations of whales breeching the surface. We sprinted to the shoreline and sure enough there were a pod of orcas passing close to the shore with the sunrise behind them.

Needless to say I’ve gone back to taking my camera with me even if it is pitch black when we start the walk. I really want to get some good shots of Orcas.


My wife and I were recently on a wildlife watching boat between Homer and Seldovia, Alaska. We had found a number of humpback whales and I did get a few decent photos of flukes and such. But then we saw a fantastic breach very close to the boat, where the whale leaped completely out of the water. The autofocus on my camera did not work quickly enough, and the only photo I got out of it was this one:


A few months ago, I was birding at Landa Park in New Braunfels, TX. The park is home to a number of springs that are home to the Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelmis comalensis). They’re only a couple millimeters long at most, and restricted entirely to the Comal and San Marcos Springs. The day I was there, there was a group doing a population survey of the species, and I got the opportunity to see a few of them. Unfortunately, because of they’re size and my phone’s camera quality, I would not have been able to get any identifiable photos of them. Still an incredible species that I am forever grateful I got to see.