© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
A bird divebombs the water looking for a tasty snack during a recent evening on a quiet gravel road south of Prince Albert.
The fruits of my new passion can be found every week on the cover of Rural Roots.
A couple times each week I head out of the city and drive the gravel roads in the area looking for some of the small ponds that are home to assorted varmints. I’ve seen a great number of ducks, geese and muskrats, with my trusty Canon camera along for the ride.
A week ago I managed to sneak out of work early and hit one of my familiar routes southeast of town. It was originally shown to me by the dean of Prince Albert photography, Geoff Payton, on May 11. I’ve been there at least half a dozen times since.
While taking pictures of birds can be frustrating business -- you have no idea where they’re going and sometimes it appears neither do they -- it’s a relaxing pastime.
Last week I took a detour off of my usual route onto a narrow, very quiet road that is surrounded by marsh on both sides.
I found a spot where birds were diving into the water to find food. Sometimes they would just put their beak in; other times they would land with a giant splash and emerge a moment later. The picture on this page is in black and white; you’ll have to head to the website to see its gorgeous blue water and reflected green and tan reeds behind.
I turned the car off that day and started getting some pictures.
A muskrat was working in the distance, swimming back and forth between the road and the reeds.
Yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds soared back and forth. I could hear geese somewhere in the distance
At one point I put the camera down and watched. One of the diving birds took offense to the muskrat and seemed to peck his back. The muskrat actually jumped up out of the water after him.
A truck drove by on the main gravel road and took a good long look at me, as I was parked maybe 50 yards down the side road. I watched him driving slowly off in the distance, imagining that he was continuing to keep a close eye on the unusual stranger in the neighbourhood.
My camera tells me that I spent about 25 minutes sitting there; the relaxation value seemed like it was a lot longer.
On the way home I found a pair of Canada geese with two young ones. When they saw me, they quickly ushered their offspring into the middle of the pond. The goslings swam comically hard to get away, pushing their little butts almost out of the water as their little legs went as fast as they could.
This is a beautiful part of the world; take time to drive a couple miles out of the city and you’ll find it yourself.
• • •
Last week I marked 25 years in daily newspapers; since newspaper years pass the same way they do for dogs, that makes me about 145 years old. (At least that’s my working theory. The studies aren’t complete yet.)
It was 27 years ago in May that I started my first newspaper job.
I would never have recognized what it would become if I had a glimpse into the future all those years ago.
I was a very young 21-year-old back then. After a year at Holland College in Charlottetown, P.E.I., I was prepared for the job at the Dauphin Herald.
It surprised me that people would actually pay me to write because the words always came easily to me. I’ve always been a writer and I guess I always will be, at least in some capacity.
I’ve told people that the Dauphin Herald printed on Tuesday morning when I was there. If I unearthed a scoop on Wednesday morning, it would still be a scoop nearly a week later when the paper came out.
It was certainly a more relaxed time because I did a lot of my writing on Monday night. There was no website to feed so there was no real reason, other than smart time management, to finish early.
But times changed, and I’m not going to surprise anyone when I say that I like all of the things that our website offers. But it is a stern master. There is an ever-present pressure to put new material on in a timely manner without sacrificing quality.
Being first is great but if you don’t do it well, you’ve completely and utterly missed the point of the news business. (I have an Exhibit A if you’re interested; ask me next time you see me.)
Our website will be evolving later this week in a way that I’m going to leave to others to explain. We offer a depth and quality of coverage that isn’t even close to being matched in this community and that won’t change.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org