The Morning My Lens Disappeared

by | May 8, 2021 | Stories & Expeditions | 2 comments

It’s never a good day for a lens to show up missing. But especially not today! For my brother’s birthday, we planned a “quick” trip to southern Texas—like about-as-far-south-as-you-can-go Texas!—for an epic birding excursion. Donald loves bird watching, Dad loves to drive, I love photography, and David loves epic adventures. So, we planned it all out and determined to leave no later than 5:00am this morning.

Donald got me up at 4:00am. Plenty of time to pack and get ready. Well, I decided to pack up my camera equipment last. And when I went to pull out the best lens I had for birding, a 70-200mm f/2.8L (with a 2x extender on a crop sensor camera, it’s as good as I can get for birding), it wasn’t in my camera bag! I don’t remember being that shocked in a LOOOONG time! This isn’t the kind of lens you just “lose.” There’s never a minute where I don’t know exactly where it is.

So, I got to thinking. “When did I have it last?”

“On Friday of the Photography Team. Almost a week ago. And I haven’t opened my bag since.”

I remember seeing it sitting on the Photography Team classroom table. I don’t remember packing it up though. I guess I just assumed it was in my camera bag because it wasn’t on the table any longer.

The worst option seemed to be the only option. Maybe somebody stole it? I could think of no other options! My lens had simply disappeared into thin air.

What is my reaction to such things? When I am dumped into hot water, am I so full of the fruit of the Spirit that I’m like a tea bag releasing aromatic blessing? Or do I suddenly forget to keep my show of spirituality until the situation gets all ironed out?

Thankfully, for this situation, the lens was in the van. In a rental camera bag. A student had evidently used it last minute on the last day, and just put it in with the rental camera when she returned the bag. And I just hadn’t looked in the bag.

But it was a big, giant test for me this morning. And I’m more grateful than I ever would have been for the pictures it has allowed me to take today. God’s gifts to us are so undeservingly abundant!

210507_James Staddon_5020 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 320

This is a Couches Kingbird, a species none of us had ever seen before. It was the first bird that actually got close enough for me to photograph when I was ready for it.

210507_James Staddon_5030 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 500

Donald said he had already seen this one, so I don’t remember the name for it. I don’t think I had ever seen one like it before though. Smile

210507_James Staddon_4963 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 800

I think we could all recognize this one. Smile

210507_James Staddon_5044 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 140 mm, 1-500 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 250

And what’s an excursion through Texas without taking a good picture of a longhorn!

210507_James Staddon_5053 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1250 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 200

Birds aren’t the only thing you can take pictures of with a good birding setup. If anyone knows what this little guy is, let me know!

210507_James Staddon_5082 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 320

Not sure exactly what kind of turtle is either. It was huge. I used both hands to pick it up to move it out of the road.

210507_James Staddon_5090 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 7.1, ISO 400

This was a new bird for everyone. A melanerpes aurifrons. Err, a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker. What incredible variety God has surrounded us with!

210507_James Staddon_5111 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-1250 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 640 And then the most unique sighting of the day (that I was actually able to get a picture of)… I was behind the wheel driving down Rt. 77, and just happened to glace to my left at just the perfect moment, and I saw this giant hawk just sitting there in the median. The first thing I noticed was the white-tipped tail. And then it was gone (I was only going like 75mph…that is the speed limit down here you know). Donald said it had to be a Harris’s Hawk, one he’d never seen, a southwestern specialty. So we turned around twice and sure enough, it hadn’t flown away! This time David was behind the wheel so I was able to take a picture of it.

Looking forward to another full day tomorrow, heading back up north. Slowly. Beholding the fowls of the air, enjoying the blessing of having a 70-200mm f/2.8L lens.

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  1. Donald S.

    So glad you captured one of the hawks James! You’re right, it is a specialty, and not only for its limited range but its bold plumage, which is so different from our northern species: Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, or Rough-legged. That dapper sparrow on the telephone line was a Lark Sparrow (

  2. James Staddon

    Thanks for identifying them for me Donald!


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