The assignment – to go out in the world (or at least Whatcom County) and take photos, but not just any type of photos, but photos that tell a story. I began to wonder what stories did I want to tell? What type of stories interest me, and that just might interest others? After submitting several photo story ideas to my instructor, we agreed that the best choice was to do a photo story on the Sardis Raptor Center, located in a lovely and lushly green area in Ferndale, Washington.
It was there I met, Ben, a quiet, thoughtful and very efficient volunteer at Sardis. He allowed me to follow him like a puppy and take photos of him doing his morning chores, such as: cleaning the raptors water dishes, removing the uneaten food, feeding the birds and giving tours to visitors. Ben has been volunteering at Sardis for a while now and it seemed that he and the raptors in the enclosures, the various hawks, eagles and owls have developed a kind of mutual respect toward each other. Ben told me that any feathers these birds shed are collected and sent to a Native American tribe in Texas to distribute to other tribes. (I looked up the law on this later and discovered that it is indeed illegal for anyone, other Native Americans, to collect, keep or even move any part of an eagle and doing so and can result in a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.)
I also photographed Ben giving a short tour of the Center to a small family and was able to take a couple of photos of a couple of visitors. His talk was interesting and refreshingly candid about the story’s regarding the reason’s the various raptors were now a part of the Sardis Raptor Center. At the end of the hour and a half, I had taken quite a few photos, thanked Ben and left.
The next day, Sunday, I was a bit disappointed that Ben was not there, but did meet a couple more of the very friendly and helpful volunteers who allowed me to take photos inside the clinic. Unfortunately, the photos did not turn out well at all as I had not adjusted my camera correctly for the lighting conditions inside the building.
On the third day of the shoot I was at Birch Bay Park where Sardis was giving a Raptor Show at the Birch Bay Amphitheater. The Sardis crew pulled up to the Birch Bay Amphitheater in truck pulling an extremely large van/camper which held the birds, crew and such.
Unfortunately, Ben was not with the crew. But, I did meet two of the volunteers who I met on Saturday and talked with them a bit. As the show began and volunteers started bringing the raptors out, a wild crow had decided that he was not happy at all with this and began crowing loudly and dive-bombing the raptors and owls as they were standing on their caretaker’s arm. This made a very large American Bald Eagle very nervous and he wrapped his large wings with its deep brown feather around his handler’s head to keep himself and her safe.