Daily Archives: October 9, 2017


Opossum, the backyard, Kennebunk Maine

Today’s Day Poem is about last night’s opossum encounter. In some light research this morning, I was reminded that the opossum is a marsupial, the only marsupial native to the US and Canada, and learned that it originated in South America and only entered North America after the continents were connected, finding its way up through Centeral America. 

The photo was taken with a flashlight for light (a big Surefire tactical light with a beam that will illuminate at 100 yards…which I use for owling and night photography) and in the Sony Rx10iii’s Anti-motion Blur mode (takes 3 to 4 pics at a fast shutter speed, stacks exposures, and processes out motion blur…quite magical for night photography with a flashlight). Manual prefocus was required, but then the auto focus locked on. I find the light of flashlight to be much more natural looking than the harsh light of the camera flash…and suspect it has less effect on the wildlife. I have developed a technique where I hold the flashlight like the policemen on tv hold their lights and guns, in my left hand against the side of the camera pointing along my line of sight where the camera is pointed. It sounds harder than it is. 

The camera records the nominal exposure, not the actual stacked exposure. A single shot would have been at 1/50 @ ISO 6400 @ f4…but the four shot AMB mode result, though it has some artifacts if you blow it up, looks much better than any shot at 1/50 and ISO 6400 of this creature in motion could have. Processed in Polarr (including a graduated filter effect to lighten the upper right corner where the flashlight beam was falling off). 

The poem: 

Last night as I climbed into bed,
my CPAP machine already ticking
over, I heard, seemed like right
outside our window, the unmistakable
call of a Barred Owl. Of course, by
the time I was dressed and outside
with my owling light and camera
the owl was long gone. It stopped
calling while I was still getting into
my shirt. Still, nothing ventured
nothing gained. As I stood there
in the back yard arching my big
light up into the branches of the
maples and oaks and pines, I sensed,
more than heard, something moving 
at ground level. I lit the area up, and 
caught a opossum at the foot of one 
of the big maples, headed, maybe, 
for the fresh meal worms in our back 
porch feeding station, or maybe just
crossing our yard headed who knows
where. That was a surprise. I know
we get Raccoons some mornings
on the back deck, raiding the sun-
flower feeders, but I never suspected 
a possum. Sharp nosed, beady eyed,
with that long prehensile tail…
the only marsupial north of Mexico,
visitor from the true wild, reminding
me that tame as our village suburb 
is, we are the visitors here, the
incommers, the new folks in the
neighborhood, and our yards,
though we mow and trim them 
and rake the fallen leaves, are still, 
as far as the natives are concerned, 
just a piece of their wild patch…
the place they rightly call home.