None of us realized that resting somewhere in this vast amber meadow was a little yellow bird and a big, black SUV. The police pulled the big machine up behind our cars, blocking us in, and bellowed from their windows to go back to our cars immediately. I was elated to have gotten that last shot, and wondered what the hell was happening.
As we handed over our ID’s and registration, the shorter of the two short men informed us that we were trespassing into a protected area, due to the presence in this meadow of an endangered species. From under his authority-imbued eyebrows, he informed us that we were on Federal land, and could potentially be arrested for trespassing, or heavily fined, or have our cars impounded, or all of the above. The second stood on the far side of my car, looking in through my passenger window. He seemed to be willing my camera, pregnant with amber-lit shots and waiting in the front seat, to give up its secrets.
They were tough alright, with their black car/crewcuts/uniforms/guns. But even a bad ass cop looks less fierce when, after I ask him what exactly is the name of the endangered animal, answers a little meekly, “Oh, well…I believe it’s called a Streak Horned Lark.” Turns out this little lark is on the “proposed” list for endangerment, but is not yet. Good news! It was obvious we were only there photographing, and had no idea we were potentially harming any birds. We had followed back roads and simply did not see the signs.
After 30 minutes, we were duly and sternly warned and free to go, and given instructions about how to purchase a permit for the future. In the meantime, we walked away with beautiful, sunset shots from the God Hour, and I was pleased to know there are police out there patrolling on behalf of innocent birds nesting on the ground. As it turns out, the bird has been proposed to be endangered, though is not official yet. Nonetheless, one mustn’t cause unnecessary tweets of the actual variety.
The Streak Horned Lark is lucky to have bad ass cops, a gorgeous, open meadow, and plenty of God Light every single day. That’s a beautiful thing.
If you’d like to learn more, click here for a bit more information about this little bird – the original kind, strictly tweeting offline.