The color Purple.

     The color Purple is defined per Wikipedia as “as a deep, rich shade between crimson and violet, or, more broadly, as a range of hues of color between blue and red, or as a dark color that is a blend of red and blue. According to surveys In Europe and the U.S., purple is the color most often associated with royalty, magic, mystery and piety.” It is also the color we find on two very illusive birds that inhabit southern Florida.

     On my recent workshop to South Florida with my friend Jack Rogers, I was blessed to be able to capture two unique birds sporting the color Purple. The first is called aptly, the Purple Gallinule, a member of the rail (Rallidae) family of birds. The Purple Gallinule per Cornell Lab of Ornithology is “A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.” It is a tropical marshbird not often photographed in the United States but I saw several on this trip that provided a brief photo opportunity. It swims like a duck but walks on floating plants rather like a chicken.

     While at Green Cay, Jack came upon another even more rarely seen bird, the Purple Swamphen. This bird is about twice the size of a Purple Gallinule and is also a member of the rail family. It is, however, a nonnative bird of southern Florida. Per the Fish and Wildlife Conservation description : “The birds in Broward County probably come from 2 aviculturists near Silver Lakes, but 8 birds did escape from the Miami Metro Zoo's "Wings of Asia" exhibit in 1992. Most of the adult swamphens at Pembroke Pines have grayish heads and are thought to be Porphyrio porphyrio poliocephalus, which is native to Turkey and the Caspian Sea east to southern Asia. There is also a blue-headed form seen at Pembroke Pines that represents another subspecies." It seems what we captured on the camera were fugitive birds of the color purple. 

     Purple indeed. These birds certainly live up to the definition of royalty, magic, and mystery (not sure about the piety one). What a way to end this year’s edition of Reflections on Broward. The Editor and I wish each of you and your families a safe, healthy, prosperous, and Blessed New Year in 2016. 

The Purple Gallinule, a member of the rail family is characterized by iridescent purple feathers, yellow legs with long toes

It swims like a duck but walks like a chicken through thick marsh grass and lily pads

Deftly balancing on bull rushes and swamp grass this omnivore eats Seeds, flowers, fruits, grains, and some invertebrates.

Juvenile is buffy tan instead of purple, with greenish back, dull bill, dull blue frontal shield, and yellow legs.

The Great Purple "Wallenda" Gallinule balancing act

Looks like another year is just about gone and a new one about here..so Happy New year!

Often mistaken for a Purple Gallinule, the Purple Swamphen is also a member of the rail family.

This nonnative Purple Swamphen probably came from a Zoo escape in Miami..

Royal, Magical, and Mystery aptly describe this bird..here feeding with its long toes to grasp the reeds. 

Looks like the end of another season of Reflections on Broward..the Editor and I wish you a Happy New Year.

Blue (Heron) Christmas

     Who can forget the words of the iconic song “Blue Christmas” sung by non other than Elvis Presley (that is for those of us of the senior generation). As the Editor and I enter into this week before the celebration of the greatest gift to mankind, we want to wish each of you and your families, a very Merry Christmas. We really don’t want you to have a Blue Christmas missing someone.  However,  we do want to share a Blue (Heron) Christmas with you.

     While on a recent workshop I stopped by the Viera Wetlands to see Gus and Greta, the nesting pair of the Great Blue Herons once again. Gus and Greta were embraced together, silhouetted in the pre-dawn light, to greet the morning. Gus flew off to gather nesting material before the sunrise and was greeted by Greta with enthusiasm with each simple gift.  Greta then carefully placed each stick with care. A bit later it appeared something was said that upset poor Gus (something about leaving for Christmas). However, they were quick to make up and hug each other in just a matter of moments. Had this not taken place it could have ended just like the song, a real Blue Christmas. The Ibis (both white and glossy) were there also (decorating a tree) as were many other birds. On my return trip I also got a few photos of Florida’s beautiful native blue and gray feathered Scrub Jay.

    We hope and pray each of you get to share this Christmas with your loved ones and pause to remember why we celebrate this festive occasion. It’s not just about a gift. It is about the love of the Giver too! Blessings to you and yours. Harry

Gus and Greta, a pair of nesting Great Blue Herons greet the morning in the pre dawn light

Gus gathers nesting material and presents them to Greta who seems thrilled with the gift. 

Gus, promise me you will be here for Christmas! I would be so blue without you..

Greta ,where did you get that crazy idea I would ever leave you? From Elvis the Egret?

Give me a hug please!

I may be a Great Blue but I would be even bluer without you Greta!

White Ibis prepare to "decorate" the barren tree..

A Glossy Ibis flies off for some last minute Christmas shopping.

I can't help having a Blue Christmas..that's my primary color....Florida Scrub Jay

Winter Solstice Dawns on the Broward..the shortest day and longest night of the year. 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from Reflections on Broward..

Morning dance….

     The “General,” our Bald Cypress, is getting more barren each day.  Soon all that will be showing will be the stark bare branches until spring. The crisp clear blue skies of December have filled the Broward this past week. Unfortunately I have had little opportunity to enjoy it until the past few days. Not sure about the rest of you young ones out there but getting up and dancing is about the last thing you might find on my daily agenda. Not so with the Great Egrets however, they love their morning dance.

     The Editor calls the Great Egret the "Bride of the Broward". Adorned in pure white flowing feathers, there is nothing more elegant and graceful looking on the Broward this time of year than the Great Egrets. Soon they should start showing the emerald green eye shadows of the coming breeding season. Each day there is one Great Egret in particular that has a favorite fishing hole near our dock. When the tide begins to recede, this graceful bird steps out of the shadows to begin its morning dance on the marsh. Not to be outdone, a Pied-billed Grebes also swims by with a rendition of “Splish Splash..I was takin a bath”!

     While waiting on the grebes to appear the last few days I was joined by another companion on the dock. Annie, a female Anhinga has decided I am not a threat anymore. For the past several days now she flies up and lands right beside me and suns herself for about a half hour each morning while drying and preening her feathers before gently slipping into the water to begin her morning feeding. The fur like feathers keep it insulated from the cold water as this species spends a great deal of time completely submerged chasing fish. I wish I could see her underwater ballet. Her graceful head pops up and looks around before taking another dive.

     Don’t feel like dancing yet? Well grab another cup of coffee and just sit and relax and enjoy the day. Unless of course you still have shopping to do. Be Blessed. Harry

Soon the "General", our Bald Cypress will be truly bald and barren of leaves...

The Bride of the Broward, the Great Egret steps out of the shadows to begin its morning dance..

Graceful wings unfold

The music of morning begins..the long white  wings lift up to dance on the water

Graceful wins kiss the water..the dance continues..

Note to be outdone,,the Pied-billed Grebe swims out on the dance floor...

Note to be outdone,,the Pied-billed Grebe swims out on the dance floor...

Good Golly Miss Molly...I was a rocking and a rollin...

I was a movin' and a groovin..

A rub dub, just relaxing in the tub, thinkin' everything was all right

Splish Splash..I was takin a bath...Great balls of fire!

Annie the Anhinga has been joining me each morning on the dock the past few days..

Note the fur like feathers that protect her while underwater...

Time for the underwater ballet to begin..unless of course you still got shopping to do..

Help..I've fallen..

     Help!  "I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!" These words from an iconic TV commercial come to mind as I walk slowly down the dock. To my right I see one end of the aged old pier of one of my neighbors has fallen into the river.  As a young midshipman at the Naval Academy, we were drilled daily with the expression, “Time, Tide and Formation wait for no man! I am now shoving off Sir! “ Time indeed has taken its toll on those old timbers. 

     Life on the Broward continues in spite of Times attack on the once strong pilings that once held these boards over the waters below. December's cool dry winds are now upon us and the marsh grass is turning golden brown. The Red-winged Blackbirds gingerly skip from reed to reed eating the dwindling seed from the tops of the grass. A Northern Harrier makes its annual appearance. I only catch a brief glimpse this year as the female Harrier swoops low over the marsh looking for a lingering blackbird breakfast. Alas this year I miss a photo op though, this illusive acipitor is just too far away for the lens to capture. Time has robbed me like it did the pier. Oh well, perhaps I will see it again next year. As the sun begins to peek over marsh, one of the Pied-billed Grebes swims around the island and heads in my direction. Aware and wary of my presence, it keeps an eye on me as it swims by the dock. Its reflection seems to keep an eye on me too.

     Some days I just feel like that old pier.  It’s once strong boards and beams stood proudly over the Broward. Now they are sitting in the muddy tide of life, as time and nature takes its toll. Then I look upstream and see those cute little Pied-billed eyes keeping watch on me. I take comfort that I know someone else is also watching over me too. Be blessed. Harry

Lately I feel like the fallen timbers of this aged old pier. 

Time marches on though on the Broward. The Brown Pelicans have arrived..

This juvenile Brown Pelican grabs a snack from the crab traps of my friend Tommy as he goes crabbing on the Broward.

A Royal Terns spots a fish and goes into a dive..

The cold breezes of December have arrived...Brrr!

This female Red-winged Blackbird searches for seeds in the marsh grass while keeping a wary eye on the sky..

A Pied-billed Grebe swims by in the early morning light..

It seems like the Grebe's reflection is keeping an eye on me also..

Though Time takes its toll on the old pier and me too, I am at ease knowing someone else is watching me too!

email: selsorhd@me.com

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