After living in the US Virgin Islands for twelve consecutive winters, I've learned a few things: Bugs are everywhere. Rum is divine. Tourists are clueless. (Most of them, anyway.)
Surprisingly, between the beach, bugs and booze, I've actually managed to learn a few useful things, too. Like how to sail a boat. Or, how to open a beer bottle -- any beer bottle (even the non-twist-off kind) -- with the flick of a lighter. Or, in the true survivalist spirit, how to hack open a coconut with a machete in a jiffy.
I've also filled my brain with a lot of interesting things: Columbus landed here on his second voyage in 1493. When the sun sets on a clear day, it often produces a green flash. Everyone should see bio-luminescence at least once in their life. (It's mind-blowing!)
Then, of course, there's the sad stuff: Third-world poverty is no joke. Corrupt politicians can really screw things up. Hurricanes are forces to be reckoned with.
Along the lines of that last category, I have seen first hand what development can do to indigenous wildlife. Before settlers arrived, the US Virgin Islands were home to a diverse population of tropical birds. Then, Europeans introduced the mongoose to the islands to eradicate rats. Big mistake. The mongooses, being day-hunters, largely ignored the nocturnal rats and instead feasted on the unprepared birds. Before long, the islands' once robust bird population was decimated. (Nice move, Europeans! Mongooses: 1. Settlers: 0.)
Due to our forefathers' blunder, it is a rare treat to be able to see an indigenous island bird species in the wild today. Enter the Green-throated Carib. For some reason, this pretty hummingbird has beaten the odds, and can be seen here and there around the islands. However, getting a good photo of one is no easy task. Being a hummingbird, the Green-throated Carib is extremely fast. We're talking lightening speed -- now you see it, now you don't.
For years, I've fantasized about being able to photograph one of the little buggers in a way that's truly artistic. Not just a quick snapshot of one on a fence. Something truly pleasing to the eye.
Last month, I finally got my wish.
I was out shooting on Cottengarden Point, on the eastern tip of the island, when out of nowhere popped a Green-throated Carib. I watched him for awhile and noticed that he kept coming back to a specific flower on a certain cactus. The sun was starting to set and the light was golden and beautiful, so I decided to take a chance, set up my cumbersome long lens rig and train it right on the flower.
I knew it was a long shot. What were the chances that the lil' guy would come back yet again to that specific flower? And, even if he did, how likely was I to manage to catch him when he was in just the right spot in the frame with his wings positioned correctly, et cetera?
Well, maybe I should visit Vegas soon because I hit the jackpot! Within ten minutes, my little feathered friend returned right on cue. He lingered for about a minute and then he was gone and did not return. Didn't matter. I had what I came for. My wish had been granted!
That about does it for this entry. As always, thanks for reading and be SURE to view the LARGE VERSION. And happy Leap Day! ^_^
A Sweet Sip (large version HERE)