Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Parrots Of Le Jardin Des Plantes

Yesterday was sometimes sunny sometimes cloudy but not rainy.

It was going to be a good day to start out in le Jardin des Plantes and then see where else I decided to go.

I was thinking that the somewhere else might turn out to be a long walk up Canal St Martin etc. with a right turn at rue de Crimée and on to Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Walking on the river level to Pont Austerlitz was pleasant as always.

I only experienced three near misses from bicyclists.

And the newly returned cormorants that like the pilings around the police boat dock were in the mood to pose for the camera.

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So I was feeling pretty photographically fulfilled before the day’s walk had really even started.

Since le Jardin des Plantes is one of the places I know to have a population of parrots, I was hoping I might get a shot or two of them.

Paris parrots have been my prime photographic quest ever since the first day, five years ago almost to the November day, in Parc Montsourris that I first saw one.

I have never gotten a really, really good picture of one.

I have always forgotten to make some last minute adjustment to the camera, or I had the wrong camera with the wrong lens, or – something, always something.

Today, I believed, was different.

I had the best camera with the best lens and I had it set for the light conditions of the moment and the focus mode set to “parrot”.

As I entered the Jardin I started listening.

I always find parrots by hearing them before I ever see one.

Shortly into the Jardin I began hearing their shrieks and wandered in their direction, which was to a densely treed area on the zoo side of the Jardin.

I could hear them but not see them.

The trees still have enough leaves to make seeing a bird in them difficult; in any event the trees are so tall that even if I did see one it would be beyond optimum reach of my lens.

But I kept following their sounds.

For no reason that I can proffer, other than instinct, I glanced away from the direction of the shrieks, to the left across the Jardin’s center of plantings to a little thicket of a couple of evergreens with red berries.

There was a flash of green as a parrot landed on the outside of one of the dense little bush-like trees and settled for a moment.

It was the perfect sized tree with the perfect color of background.

And I got there in time.

And I got a picture that appeared to be going to be the one I have been questing after.

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And that was it.

I only got the one shot.

And finally, after five years, I seemed to have everything set to take advantage of the fleeting opportunity.

I waited around for several minutes but the parrots – there had been two or three of them – once flown weren’t returning.

So I wandered back in the direction of the ones I had been looking for earlier and walked and listened and heard but did not see for the depth of the Jardin to its inner depths.

And then I went right and came back along the zoo.

I heard a lot of parrots, saw flits of a few but didn’t get any chances at shots.

I was completing the circumnavigation of that part of the Jardin and was nearly back to the main gate where I was planning to cross the river and walk up to La Bastille when something made me stop.

And I listened.

And I heard, not a shriek or cackle, but a continuous crunching.

I looked up and I was under a tree filled with parrots.

They were all feasting on some kind of seeds that they were getting out of the dried pods on the tree.

I got a lot of pretty good pictures.

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