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