Hiding in Plain Sight

Animals are quite adept at hiding in plain sight. Often while walking, I will scare something up, without having seen it until it is moving away from me. Usually, this is because I am looking, but not seeing. In other words, I am not paying attention to details; just glancing over the terrain. A couple of days ago, I was searching for Bobcats. I saw a Bobcat but not until it was running away from me. I had to have been pretty close to it but it saw me first.

Take a look at the picture below. What do you see?

Black-tailed Deer buck bedded down in Coyote Brush. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @560 mm, ISO 640, f/8, 1/1000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

I saw the buck in the photo above before he saw me. Fortunately, it was the beginning of the rutting season and he was watching a doe and smaller buck on the opposite side of him. I worked my way down a ravine to get closer. I knew his approximate location but lost him for a bit. I knew he hadn’t left the area and it took a bit of searching before I saw his antlers move slightly. He had bedded down when I wasn’t looking. When he finally stood up, it wasn’t hard to see him!

Black-tailed Deer buck in rut. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @560 mm, ISO 640, f/8, 1/1000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

Last week, I swung by North Beach mid-morning. I could see something odd on the beach but without moving closer, I could not distinguish what I was seeing. It turned out to be a flock of shorebirds resting on the sand. Many of the birds were resting on the sand and I could plainly see their white bellies. But, some of the birds were tucked into little swales in the sand and blended in very well. A hawk flying overhead would have had a hard time picking out these birds. They were well camouflaged with their backs matching the coloration of the sand. Several times, I moved to get a few more pictures of these little peeps, only to find that others were hiding very close to me already. I just overlooked them.

Least Sandpiper tucked into a shallow swale in the sand. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @560 mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

When searching for wildlife, slow down. The first to move is usually the first to be detected. Wildlife is good at using cover to camouflage or hide its shape. They are also good at being patient and watching for movement (potential threats). If you want to see more wildlife, move into an area slowly. Stop frequently and slowly scan the area around you. Watch for movement or something that just does not look quite right; something that is out of place. It is a thrill to watch wildlife that has no idea you are in the area.