One Door Closes..

     It has been beautiful weather this past week. I have been spending most of the week preparing for a presentation on Reflections to be given to the local chapter of the Mayflower Descendants Society. Things are still very quiet on the Broward. “George” and the night herons are still around, a Great Egret, a few mallards, a few Snowy Egrets, and, the Tri Colored Heron, but that is about all the bird traffic. Few feathered friends and far between seems the norm lately. It appears “Fuzzy and Wuzzy” fully fledged (are able to fly), and the Barred Owl family “flew the coop”.  Not a hoot has been heard nor a feather seen of the owls since last week. I was really hoping to catch them doing flight training. But I have some good news also.

       A refreshing cool spring breeze is blowing up the channel as I sit and catch the sunset. George, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron just caught another crab and is enjoying a little feast. Out of the corner of my eye a Clapper Rail emerges for a second, spots me, and dashes back to cover. A few days ago after looking for the owls (in vain) I went to my dock. It was low tide and I had low spirits. There at my feet are two Clapper Rails on the bank below my feet busily hunting through the muddy streams. They seem aware but unconcerned at my appearance and just slowly work their way across the lagoon to more secure and safe surroundings. That is the first close encounter I have had with them since about a year ago when I spotted my first Clapper Rail on the other side of the dock. It is the Golden hour during sunset and I get a few great photographs. Their little tail feathers stick straight up and the feathers gleam in the golden light. It is clear how they get the nickname Mud Hens. The Tricolored Heron that is often seen is also still around but is now in full breeding colors. It lands on the dock and I slowly approach it to see if I can get a few photos. It puts its best foot forward, ruffles its feathers up, shakes them like crazy and then it flies off again to show off its new look probably to some prospective lady bird friend.  A Snowy Egret drops in for a quick bite in the low tide. Another one apparently does not like this one using his favorite fishing spot and drives it away. They sound like Donald Duck as they squawk angrily at each other and take off down the Broward, one in hot pursuit of the other. I look across the river to see an Osprey fly by. Most of the birds are remaining on the other side out of range of my lens this evening. Then I see a flash of Pink! The Spoonbills are back! One lands near the pier on the opposite bank and begins to sweep that spatulate bill back and forth. The Roseatte Spoonbill is soon joined by another. Later I catch them in the distance flying up the river. Hopefully they will swing by this side of the river soon. Spring and the Spoonbills have arrived.

   When one door closes another opens! I was feeling down about the owls being gone and the fact there are so few birds around. That flash of pink of the “spoonies” has lifted my spirits and hope again. The spring floods are beginning and tornado season is getting in full swing. Things look real gloomy in the middle east.  But the SPOONIES ARE BACK! Recently got the Editor a T-Shirt that says “Roseatte Spoonbill Whisperer”.  Just in time too! Be Blessed. Harry

My last photo of Fuzzy and Wuzzy, they have fully fledged and flew off to other adventures hopefully.

A pair of Clapper Rails make a rare appearance!

Mud Hens seems an appropriate name.

Safe and Sound back on the other side!

The Tri Colored Heron in Breeding plumes puts its best foot forward.

It puffs up!

Does the Snowy Pokey Shake!

It nearly shakes its head off it seems!

Ready for a night on the Marsh!

The Tri takes wing to show off its fine feathers.

A snowy egret drops in!

A Black Skimmer swoops by.

A flash of pink fills the sky!

The Roseatte Spoonbills are back! Now it is officially Spring on the Broward!

Humble Pie

    What a weekend at the Florida Birding and Foto Fest 2013. Well I didn’t win but had fun and learned some more bird stuff and had a great time. The winning photo of the contest was of a pair of Swallow Tailed Kites.  I almost had the “trophy” bird on the hood of my truck though. A pair of Swallow Tailed Kites swooped down in front of the truck on the way home one of the nights I was at the Bird Fest. It is a fairly large bird with long black and white wings. Another foot closer and it would have been a hood ornament.  I went back to the Alligator farm also and wanted to share some more photos. There are lots of birds there now.  The speakers at the conference also confirmed the lack of birds seen elsewhere this time of year is because many of the local species are brooding and nesting. That is why it is so quiet on the Broward.

     I see my first Green Heron as I enter the bird-walk area sitting near the Alligator Farm sign. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “It can be difficult to see as it stands motionless waiting for small fish to approach within striking range, but it frequently announces its presence by its loud squawking.” (Sort of like teenagers I think).  There are several more bird species nesting now. The cattle Egrets, tri-colored Herons and Snowy Egrets are busy building nests and carry sticks to the nest site for approval. The beaks on the male Tri Colored (and Little Blue) Heron show a bright blue hue during breeding season. One of my favorite birds, the Roseatte Spoonbill is there also. I watch an adult fly back and forth to feed three young Spoonbills. One young Spoonbill is particularly hungry and really digs deep for some food. I have them pose for a family photo. The adult Spoonbills have a balding greenish head where the feathers have disappeared. Like the Wood Stork, the Spoonbill’s head feathers are destroyed by bacteria in the mud when they feed. Breeding Spoonbills have a yellowish orange tail and bright pink patches on the wings. The pink feathers and spatulate-shaped bill are very distinctive identifiers for this bird. It sweeps the bill back and forth in shallow water at low tide and snaps shut when it detects something edible. A large bull alligator arches its back and begins to emit a large series of grunts. The water vibrates from the grunting behind the head. Another answers and soon the whole farm is alive with gator grunt “music”. It must be catchy because the Great Egret arches its back in a similar manner and goes into a display.

     Nothing like a good piece of humble pie to get one back to reality. I was beginning to think I was getting the hang of this bird photography thing. I was truly in the presence of some great bird photographers this weekend. Their work makes mine seem pale and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But I have to remember they have spent years and years and thousands of dollars and countless days and nights perfecting their art and skills. I just started so I will be back next year hoping again (Lord willing).  I also figure if a photo of the moon rising over a building can win second place in a bird photography contest though some of them judges was smoking something besides cigarettes! Be Blessed, Harry

Tri-Colored Heron welcomes you back to the Alligator Farm.

Adult Green Heron. (My first sighting of one of these)

Roseatte Spoonbill feeding juvenile. Yum Yum!

Family portrait time Roseatte Spoonbills.

Adult Roseatte Spoonbill.

Get another stick she says!

Cattle Egret with an attitude.

Bull Alligator doing a bellowing GRUNT!

Snowy Egret puffs up when a rival approaches.

Great Egret in Display

Close up of Great Egret Breeding Colors (origins of eyeshadow?)

I'll be back with the winning photo next year!

Who Cooks for You?

     I know the weather up North is still cold but we are putting the air conditioner on already and haze and humidity are building up. As the bird traffic on the river decreases I find myself looking for new subjects in the area. Yesterday evening I saw an owl I have been hearing in the area but it was already dark. This evening I heard it again before sundown and went looking for it. Found it, and then some.

     My cousin spots it first. It is a fledgling Barred Owl in one of the oaks in the schoolyard next door. It was high up in the foliage but I got small sunlit angle on it and got a photo. The fluffy feathers and large dark eyes were mesmerizing.  A short time later I was talking to another neighbor about them and one of the adults flies overhead and lands in a tree in their yard. You do not hear an owl fly, the feathers are made in such a way as to render them silent. Their keen eyesight, excellent hearing and silent flight make them very efficient hunters. I raise the camera, find the doohickey and  Click! I look across the street and spot the owl’s mate. Click again. The flash went off in the low light and spooked it but not before I have three Barred Owl photos. The call of the Barred Owl is very distinct, hoo hoo hoo-hoo, hoo hoo hohooooawe (who cooks for you, who cooks for you all) ending with a descending and rolling hooooaaw note.  Since retiring I do most of the cooking now so I know the answer to that call. The weather turned bad over the weekend and when it cleared I went back to the same area and spot the adult again. Then I see them. Two fuzz balls on a limb. I call them Fuzzy and Wuzzy! What a HOOT! More like what a pair of little Hoots. Fuzzy is the one on the right and starts to bob and weave its head trying to get a better look at me. Wuzzy decides to scare me away by fluffing up its wings and showing me how bad and scary it is. They are not yet able to fly but I see them exercising their wings and hoping from branch to branch between naps. Life is good in "Hooter-ville" hollow. I will check on them in the coming weeks and report back on their progress.

     Some of you might not believe this but just the day before this happened I was going over my wish list of birds and checking them off.  I have also started framing some photos for a small Wings on the Broward gallery wall in the hallway. I call them my keepers.  I have been hoping to find an owl. I put them in my morning prayers and within a day I had three photos. Hmmm. maybe its time to pray about the Powerball lottery..(just kiddin Lord).. Time for me to get supper started now because I, I, I cook for the Editor and she is hungry when she gets home! Ya’ll be blessed. I sure was. Harry

Fledgling Barred Owl peeks out of the tree.

Adult Barred Owl peers down from the tree and gets caught by my flash on the camera.

The setting sun illuminates the Barred Owl on its perch.

One of two fledglings. I call this one Fuzzy!

Sibling fledglings Fuzzy on the right and Wuzzy on the left.

Wuzzy fluffs up its wings in an attempt to scare me off? Or just stretching? Fuzzy catches some zzzss..

The fledglings can hop from branch to branch, appears they will be practicing flight soon.

One of the two adult Barred Owls keeps a watch on me while I watch the fledglings.

Sunrise, Sunset

     I enjoy watching the sunsets and sunrises. I must admit that I missed so many of these moments before I retired. Now I don’t really have an excuse. As I sat on my dock this evening and watched the sunset, the wispy cirrus clouds seemed to be painted in shapes that reminded me of birds on wing (of course)! Dusk and dawn bring out some recent arrivals to the Broward. You already met George, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Now meet his “cousin” the Black-crowned Night-Heron.

     The Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most common of all the herons. According to the Cornell Ornithology lab “With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.” My experience is that they are very illusive birds. Once you locate where they roost you often have to wait and watch to catch them in the open or on wing. The solution I found is to camp out nearby and just wait for an opportunity. Fortunately for me they roost next door in my cousins tree with George and several other Night Herons. There is also a large group roosting and nesting at the zoo near the Wood Storks this time of year. The young Black-Crowned are brown and stippled with white streaks and gradually turn to a light blue grey with white underbelly and a dark blue-black crown on the head and back. The red eyes are large and prominent. These stocky herons grab their food vice stab it. In the hot Florida afternoons and early evenings they love to cool off in the water just like us. We hit almost 90 degrees this week and the ac has kicked in. I found this Black-Crowned Night Heron sitting in the water as if it were "coolin it" and enjoying a Jacuzzi at the zoo.  When a mating rival comes close they tend to really puff up and defend their territory and get very noisy. Otherwise they seem to be a very communal birds living in small colonies with other Herons. By positioning myself on my dock and near their roosting area I captured a number of photos, hope you enjoy. Other than “George” they are one of the few birds I have seen the past few weeks. 

      “Sunrise, Sunset, quickly fly the days” go the popular lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof. How true. The days and years seem to be flying by lately. The young babies I saw when I built my home are now driving. Where did the time go? Take time to watch a sunset or catch a sunrise this week with a cup of coffee. And if things start to get too hot this spring, just cool your bottom like the night herons.  Be Blessed. Harry

Sunrise on the Broward, the haze is starting to build from the heat and moisture.

Immature Black-Crowned Night-Heron still showing streaks of brown on the neck.

Mature adult Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron with brown streaked feathers.

Black-crowned Night-Heron on wing.

Coolin it on a hot spring afternoon while reflecting on life.

Sunset on the Broward. "How quickly fly the days"!

Uninvited Guests

     It has been very quite on the Broward. Fewer and fewer birds are around in the mornings so I have been going out more in the afternoons and evenings.  This one particular afternoon was interesting. I have been trying to get some better photographs of our local Red Shouldered and other hawks in the area. If I were a bird I think I would wish they would move elsewhere. Can’t blame them there. The hawks tend to drop in unexpected and uninvited.  

     I notice the Red Shouldered Hawk flying back and forth across the river a few times and try to catch a photo on one of its fly-byes.  I got one of the hawks with a snake in its talons last week. My philosophy on snakes left no sympathy for it. These birds of prey look for anything that moves and do indeed take a keen interest in the local small birds that congregate around the bird feeders. The hawk announces its presence and I see it fly by and land in my cousin’s tree. Apparently the night herons roosting there are not too pleased with this unexpected and unwanted“ house guest”. The Black Crowned Night Herons let out a loud squawk and drop quickly down into the low tide mud below the tree keeping a watchful eye on the visitor. About that time George, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron, comes flying out of the tree with his eyes as big as saucers. He is flying straight at me. As I track him thru the lens all I remember seeing is those huge red eyes looking right at me. It appears like George is going to land right in my lap literally but at the last second he pulls up and just plops down in the mud right in front of me. The look on George's face was enough to make me laugh but I could tell the poor bird was scared. He just stood there looking up right in front of me hoping it seems that I would protect him from the big bad hawk. I reassure George that he is OK and he can sit there as long as he feels necessary. In a few minutes he calms down and begins to explore the muddy stream for a snack but remains close by. The hawk flies off and all returns to normal. For now that is. Just another day on the Broward. One that George would like to forget I am sure.  

     We have all had them, uninvited guests that just drop in. Most of the time it is an old friend or family and we just are so happy to see them. But then there are times when some folks drop by that we scratch our heads still today and say to ourselves why on earth did they come by? What do they want from me? You just never know what life’s unannounced encounters will lead to. I hope everyone who knocks on your door is a friend. If not, you know just smile, give em a cup of coffee perhaps and try to show them they are welcomed too (even if they aren’t). Poor ole George, he is probably still having “day-mares” though. Be blessed. Harry

Red Shouldered Hawk with snake sandwich!

Red Shouldered Hawk eyes the bird feeders.

Uninvited guest lands in the Night Heron's roost.

Knock Knock. Anybody home?

The Black Crowned Herons fly into the mud below and look up to see who's knockin!

George the Yellow Crowned Night Heron comes flying out of the tree!

All I see in the viewfinder is George's bug eyed red eyeballs coming right at me!

George lands at my feet visibly upset!

George's eyes are still wide and alarmed.

After a few minutes George calms down, the hawk leaves and life returns to normal. But George still has "Day-mares". (he sleeps in the day remember)

Snowy Pokey

     The waning half moon was shining bright in the pre-dawn sky. As the sun began to rise over the marsh I scanned for signs of birds. Seeing none, the Broward seems even more empty as the low tide exposes the muddy river bottom. I sit and wait.

     In the distance I see a Great Blue Heron and some night herons feeding in the mud flats revealed by the tide. Pretty soon I hear a familiar sound as the Tricolored Heron flies up the channel followed by a Snowy Egret. Seems wherever the one goes, the other follows.  My name for these two is “The Bickersons” because they love to ruffle each other’s feathers. The Snowy finally returns to the dock and alights on the edge. The morning sun is just beginning to fill the marsh darkness and reflects in the bird’s eye and makes the white feathers begin to gleam. It hops into the tidal stream as it begins to slowly fill. I practice my white balance techniques on the bird trying not to blow out the white color in the every brightening sunlight. Some of you may remember The Hokey Pokey! The Snowy Egret appears to be doing its own version called the "Snowy Pokey". It lifts its right foot in and then out and the ruffles up its feathers and shakes them all about. When finished with ruffling the Egret looks up, and goes on as if everything is in place now and life is good. I bet Janet the Hairdresser would love to straighten hair as well as this bird straightens its ruffled feathers out. Looking back into the channel I see a Clapper Rail (rarely seen) come out in the open, swim the small tidal stream and begin to feed in the mud. Also called “mud hens” these small birds were once nearly hunted to extinction. Its ability to run through the thick march grass is where we get the term “skinny as a rail”.  The eggs are reported to be especially delicious and are a favorite to the local raccoons. They lay up to a dozen at a time and both parents share the sitting and brooding duties. I wonder if I will see any young ones soon. The adults are rarely seen so I hope the young provide at least a few opportunities this spring. The Osprey has been frequently seen carrying fish to a nest somewhere in the vicinity. I suspect that there are now more beaks to feed as it seems to be in a hurry to deliver the fish. As I scan the morning blue sky the bright white wings of a Great Egret reflect sunlight as it flies by. The beak is showing the bright green mating color around the base and eyes. I think I know where women got the idea for eye shadow colors now! 

     How do you handle it when your feathers get ruffled? Mine seem to get ruffled a lot easier the older I get. I don’t think I ever learned the Snowy Pokey technique the Egret seemed to use and just smooth them out and walk on. Maybe this ole dog can learn a new trick. Maybe not. Coffee anyone? Be Blessed. Harry

Snowy Egret greets the morning light.

You put your right foot in!

You put your right foot out!

You put your left foot in and ...

You shake it all about

You do the Snowy Pokey

And you smooth those feathers out!

That's what it's all about! Lookin Good now!

A Clapper Rail (also called mud hens) makes a rare daylight appearance.

Osprey silhouetted in the sun with morning catch flying off to feed young ones?

Great Egret with breeding colors of bright green around the base of the beak and eyes!

Tax Free!

     Can you believe it is April already? Had a nice little getaway in St Augustine last week during the Editor’s time off for Spring break. I hope that the snow is finally starting to melt up north for you folks north of I-10. While the Editor slept in and caught up on some reading by the fireplace at the Hotel I decided to visit the local Alligator Farm bird rookery. It was a finger numbing cold morning but clear blue skies. I still managed to press the doohickey a few times with nearly frozen fingers. The Great Egrets and Wood Storks are nesting right now. And we saw the first new Egret arrivals on one of the nests.

     The Great Egret is one of the most elegant and graceful birds seen on the Broward. Not quite as large as the Great Blue Heron, these birds still possess an impressive wingspan as they glide overhead. The feathers are all white. The bills are yellowish orange, and the legs are black. During mating season the beaks show an emerald green color near the eyes and base of the beak and wispy nuptial plumes on the body. It was for these plumes that the birds were nearly hunted to extinction in the late nineteenth century. They have made a wonderful comeback thanks to laws and efforts to conserve and protect them. The Alligator farm has a very successful bird rookery (as well as alligators). The gators, being cold blooded reptiles, are not moving much but they will keep a wary eye on these bird nests for anything that happens to fall out or birds that venture too close to the waters edge. It is definitely buyer beware when using this rookery. But other than the gators, the birds have few if any other predators to worry about raiding their nests from below.  The rookery has dozens of Egret and Wood Stork nests seen on arrival. The sun was just rising but the birds were not moving much yet due to the near freezing weather.  A few birds were showing off their plumes as they displayed. One in particular was arching his neck and leaning back in a stunning display of feathers that gleam white in the morning sun. One surprise is the presence of the Roseatte Spoonbills who have just arrived this past week. They are busy building nests in the Bald Cyprus trees that are just beginning to bloom with new spring growth.  A Black-crowned Night Heron and a Snowy Egret are also present this morning. As the sun begins to warm up we are surprised to see three fuzzy white heads poke up above the sticks on one of the Great Egret nests. As the parents proudly watch the hatchlings, they squawk and peck at the adults beak for food, which the parents oblige with "fresh" breakfast treats. Not real appetizing in my opinion but then again I don’t have to share. I just press the doohickey. It was only a year ago I took my first bird photographs of some newly hatched egrets at this same place and got hooked on bird photography. I am not too hungry after watching the birds eat but do manage a few more pictures. 

     The new arrivals are a sure sign of spring and that the mating season is starting to get into full swing in Northern Florida. Now I know why I am seeing fewer and fewer birds on the Broward. The soon to be parents have other things on their minds right now. Wonder if I can get a tax deduction for the new birds? I depend on them. But they seem to get tax-free benefits everyday come rain or shine. Come to think about it so do we! Think about it.  In the meantime, keep the coffee pot warm.  Be Blessed. Harry

Ok so I ain't a bird! its my farm though! And I did come from an egg also. Welcome to the St Augustine Alligator farm.

Well Helloooo there! Glad for you to see me today! I got something to squawk about! It's Springtime!

A Great Egret displays its plumes!

The Roseatte Spoonbill has arrived at the farm!

The spoonbills are busy building nests in the Bald Cyprus.

The Great Egret now in breeding colors busily buids its nest.

The nest is built just in time for three new arrivals!

Two Proud Parents and their hatchlings!

Breakfast..Yumm Yumm!

Hey, don't forget me, how do you think baby birds get here? The Wood Stork brings em!

Ya'll come back now for another visit!

Ahhhh...a little afternoon rest

     Ever have one of those lazy afternoons when all you want to do is rest? For those of you not retired (smile) yet, a good afternoon rest really helps out the body. But you have to do it just right. I found a real expert at it. A Brown Pelican I encountered sure knows how to do it right.

     After two days of nothing but rain and thunder the clouds finally clear this afternoon and the sun shines bright. I haven't been able to use the camera for two days so I walk down the neighbors dock. Earlier I had seen a few Brown Pelicans in front of my little lagoon fishing in the afternoon sun as the tide begins to ebb out to sea and take lots of fish with it. While peering up the channel I happen to glance down at the floating dock. There staring up at me is one of the Brown Pelicans. This one has a brown stripe down the back of the head indicating a breeding adult. The non breeding adults have a white neck and the juveniles are mottled brown. There is one of each age/phase in the area it seems now. I fully expected this bird to be startled and take off. Instead it just yawns, gets up, and stretches and then sits down again. It is amazing to be so close to this beautiful bird in the wild. The evening sun reflects off the yellow and white feathers on the crown giving it a soft glow. It lays its head back across its back as if scratching and then its eyes begin to droop shut. This pelican is just plain pooped out. Nothing better on a sunny afternoon than a good ole snooze. Not wishing to disturb the poor bird I quietly turn and leave. A few hours later I return to watch some black skimmers going up the channel. As I go down to the floating dock I nearly trip over the sleeping pelican not realizing it was still there. It was as surprised as I was I think. The poor bird gives me a sleepy look and then waddles over to the edge of the dock. It appears torn between a swim and some more sleep it seems. There is a metal band around its leg and I figure that is why it is not so startled by human presence. This bird has been in human hands before. Because I got it up from its nap ole sleepy head decides it might as well go "fishin" and joins a few friends gulping down the mullet which seem abundant. None of the pelicans (or Egret) seem disturbed by my close proximity and they swim up to within a few feet of me while doing something they like better than sleeping....and that is eating. I only got about a hundred photos to choose from. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them.

The poem by Emma Lazarus on the plaque by the Statue of Liberty beckons the tired and the poor to rest on our shores. This Pelican took it literally. That night it was still there on the dock enjoying the sunset. So I sat near it and watched it too. Someone else recently celebrated (no not the Easter Bunny) also said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". The older I get the more I long for and enjoy a good rest. If you haven't done it lately, take some time to rest. It'll do you a world of good. Just take a tip from this ole Brown Pelican....come along and take that rest. And be Blessed today. Harry

Hey you, want to keep it quite, trying to sleep here!

Gotta streeeetch a bit.

Ohh that feels good.

Got a little scratch there to get..yeah..that is the spot.

Now where was I, oh yeah..snoozin!

You again!. Geesh!

Well since I am up now. Might as well eat!

But that nap sure was nice..hmm..sleep, eat..tough decision..

Here comes ole sleepy head.

Hey, what ya eatin? Mullet?

Does he ever get tired of pointing that thing with the doohickey at us?

Hey you,,,watch this!

Wheee! Fish!

Watch my next trick! I would do a hand stand but I don't have any, only feathers.

See I can make my whole head disappear!

Just watching the sunset! And snooozin some more!

Open or Shut?

     As I was shooting a sunset the other day something swooped by.  It was low tide and this bird was like a shadow going by so fast. I knew exactly what it was. A Black Skimmer. I saw these last spring for the first time and got some photos then during a photography workshop I took.  I hoped I would see it again in the daylight. And I did.

The Black Skimmer is the only American member of the skimmer family. The other two, the Indian and African skimmer feed in a similar manner. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “The remarkable bill of the Black Skimmer sets it apart from all other American birds. The large red and black bill is knife-thin and the lower mandible is longer than the upper. The bird drags the lower bill through the water as it flies along, hoping to catch small fish.”  The two halves of the bill are the same length at birth but within a month the lower mandible is about a half inch longer. Breeding adults have a black head and continuous black feathers down the back and wings. Non Breeding adults have a speckled head and white band around the back of the neck. The ones I see tonight are not yet in breeding colors.   Several skimmers are out in the river and they swoop around the channel near our dock. I position myself to catch them swoop by in the fading evening light. One of the birds obliges me a bit and swoops overhead and then comes head first towards me giving me some better light and close up opportunities. They are fast movers though and in just a few minutes they are gone elsewhere on the Broward. I hope you enjoy them. 

     The skimmer philosophy is that if you keep your mouth open long enough something is sure to fall into it. What a way to eat. Sometimes we too open our mouths a lot. Not so much to eat but to speak out. And it is not what falls into it that gets us in trouble. It is what comes out of it that can cause the problem. Don’t go by the skimmer creed. Think before you speak. It will save you a lot of heartache later. And by keeping it closed on these spring days the flies can’t get in either. You think about it. In the meantime, Be Blessed. Harry

Black Skimmers swoop low over the Broward with their beaks skimming the water for fish.

Black Skimmer swoops by at sunset.

Its lower jaw in the water, the skimmer hopes to snatch a fish as it flies along.

The lower jaw or mandible is much longer than the upper one.

Hmmm, open or shut, which catches more fish (or flies)?

Don't laugh, it works!

Ohh, i missed that one!

Black Skimmer in mating/breeding colors, photo taken Mar 12

See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil skimmer style!

Non breeding colors on Black Skimmer. 

Waiting

     Things have been pretty quiet on the Broward recently. There are only a few birds around in the mornings. Recently I have been watching the sunsets and early evenings just to get a few extra photographs. Some winter guests are preparing to leave. The Canada Geese were still on Goose Pond though. The coming of spring must have some of the birds off somewhere building nests and preparing for a new brood of young ones. The Easter Bunny isn’t the only one who is leaving colored eggs behind.

     A few evenings ago I was sitting waiting and watching the sunset when Spunky the female Belted Kingfisher flew right over my head without seeing me and landed on the copula roof. A few moments later she dove headfirst into the water beneath my feet, completely submerging. Not wanting to scare her, I remain still.  She flies up out of the water with a fish in her beak and lands on the railing right in front of me. Then she realizes I am there. I never saw her move so fast in my life and she is quick. I was unable to raise the camera fast enough but will not soon forget the surprised look on her face.  She couldn’t say anything with her beak full but I could see in her eyes what she was thinking, and it wasn’t nice. I did catch her as she flies by later still perturbed at me. As I was walking back down the dock in the same evening her mate “Funky” the male flew near and went into a hover right in front of me. Funky can be distinguished from the female because he does not have the tan band of feathers around the chest like Spunky. These birds can hover in a spot like a helicopter while watching for signs of a fish below. Then they dive faster than the eye can see. You might recognize one shot I used for my Easter Greeting. He hangs in the air for only a few moments. I don’t know if it was the fact there were no fish or seeing me pointing a camera right at him that caused him to suddenly dip and scoot out of there. I bet they have some things to say to each other about me tonight. But I sure appreciate the photo opportunity. I have been trying to get a close up of a hover for some time now. Good things do come to those who wait. 

     Waiting is hard sometimes. We want something to happen and happen now, on our terms. Life just isn’t like that though is it? Sometimes the things we want and wait for never seem to come. Sometimes what arrives is not what we wanted at all.  Sometimes it does come and after it is there we wonder why we wanted it in the first place. Just be patient next time. Why any day that Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes van is going to pull right up to your front door.  APRIL FOOLS! In the meantime have a cup of coffee. Be Blessed

Spunky the female Belted Kingfisher wings by after I surprised her.

Appearing to hang in mid air, Funky the male Belted King Fisher goes into a hover.

My shutter speed of 1/1250th of second catches the wing movements in the hover.

All my eyes see are the blur of wings.

Funky appears motionless peering down into the river.

His tiny wings are outstretched like an Angels wings.

His eyes catch movement, I think mine!

Funky dips his wings and looks at me.

And off he goes. But it was worth the wait.

email: selsorhd@me.com

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