Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
On my first full day in the Yukon, I was photographing the Tintina Trench from a great vantage point when I noticed a bird perched on a signpost. Margaret Goodwin of Yukon Tourism told me it was a Canada Jay and was also referred to as a whiskey jack.
She told me just how tame the birds are - and knowing my fondness for any photographic challenge, she told me to try and hit my shutter button as the bird reacted to a potato crisp held in her hand.
I was not entirely convinced. "You’re going to hold a crisp and that bird’s going to come and get it?" I asked. She nodded. The challenge was on.
She held up the crisp and the jay, categorised as Perisoreus Canadensis, swooped immediately. I was a fraction of a second too late on the shutter - but as you’ll see from the first shot above, I got the bird as it turned towards me, with wings outspread and the prize in its claws.
Still marvelling at how tame the bird was, I asked Margaret to hold up another crisp. Same thing. Bird swooped. My second shot was a carbon copy of the first attempt, so I didn't bother to post it here.
Then it got really interesting. Margaret suggested I hold a crisp in one hand and try and photograph the bird at the same time. Feeling a bit like Edward Scissorhands, I held the crisp in my left hand and the camera in my right.
I just made one mistake. You see, I held the crisp loosely between thumb and forefinger, so the bird was away with the crisp in its beak even before I had reacted.
Naturally, I had to try again. This time I held the crisp more firmly, in order to delay the whiskey jack for a split second, while I tried to get a shot of him.