Reflections on Reflections

      This past year has been more than just a journal. It has been an incredible and wonderful journey for me. The beauty and grace I have seen in these winged wonders filled me with awe, amazement and gratitude to the Creator of all. They made me laugh and smile. Along the way I learned new skills, become more familiar with my lens, made some mistakes, and gained valuable experience as an amateur bird photographer. I learned things about the bird life on the marsh that still amaze me. I want to thank you, my photo friends, for the words of encouragement you sent me from time to time. They are indeed treasured and inspire and encourage me to continue and improve. There is more I want to learn and share.

     However, I will be taking a needed break in January 2014 to pause, reflect, refresh and reload. Learning better photo editing skills with new software will be one of my first endeavors in the coming New Year (and catch up on some overdue Editor-do projects). I also wish to move “Beyond the Broward” to take some new journeys. Caregiver duties will keep me tethered close to home. Therefore I plan to continue my daily dock visits and photos and resume Reflections in February. Once a month I will try to journey to local rivers and lakes with my Kayak and share those moments with you with a special monthly Beyond the Broward edition.

     I want to close by reviewing some feathered friends we have met this past year. These photos are some of my favorite moments. If you feel inclined, I would love some feedback on your favorite ones too so I know which ones to look for in the coming year. And as always, enjoy a cup of coffee or a moment with someone you love. My Editor and I wish you all the best this coming New Year. Be Blessed. Harry

Old Man River, the Great Blue and largest of the Heron family on the river.

Little Blue Heron, the smallest of the Blue Herons. White when born.

Tricolored Heron, the mid sized blue and one of my most faithful feathered friends on the dock.

George, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron

George, the purveyor of fine crab delights!

Black Crowned Night Heron

Timicuan, the Little Green Heron

Great White Egret, the Bride of the Broward. Egrets are mainly white and are members of the Heron family.

Snowy Egrets, smaller in size than the Great Egret, with black beak, yellow feet. Graceful yet comical clowns of the Broward.

Reddish Egret, loves to dance in the surf. A White morph variant also occurs.

Sanderling, gives a wet kiss.

Roseate Spoonbill viewed from a Kayak.

Broken Feather, the Bald Eagle with fish catch. King of the raptors.

Osprey with large mullet catch

Red Shouldered Hawk

American female Kestrel, a small falcon.

Lift off from Cape Canaveral, Osprey takes flight.

Barred Owl watching nest.

Fuzzy and Wuzzy, Barred owlet fledglings.

Funky the Belted Kingfisher

Black Skimmer reflection

Pied Billed Grebe with fish.

White Pelican (top) and Brown Pelican on the Broward

They save the pretty ones for last. Wood Stork on a limb.

Wishing you a Blessed and Happy New Year from Reflections on Broward!

Twas the Week before Christmas..

Twas the week before Christmas, I was writing my Reflections email,

not a bird was Kak-kaking, not even a rail;

the crab pots were full on the river I dare say,

I hoped that St. Thomas would soon come my way.

 

The wiener dogs were nestled all snug in their beds,

while visions of beggin strips danced in their heads;

and Editor in her nightie, and I with my camera in tow,

had just settled down with a nice cup of joe;

 

When out on the Broward, there arose such a clatter,

I sprang to the dock and slipped on goose splatter.

Away to the marsh I flew like a Red Shouldered Hawk,

Past the Generals branches so I could get a good gawk. 

 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but a miniature crab boat and eight peli-cones a makin it float.

With the helm in his hand the driver did steer,

Twas ole St. Thomas a drivin da boat.

 

More rapid than eagles his pelicans they came,

and he whistled and shouted and called them by name;

now Omar! now Timiquan!, now Whodat and Spunky,

On Fuzzy, on Wuzzy, on George and on Funky!

 

Up and down the river the pelicans they flew,

Following the crab boat, and St. Tommy, too.

As I picked up camera, and was turning around,

Round the island St. Tommy came with a bound.

 

He was dressed in an apron from his head to his feet,

and his boots were all tarnished from swamp mud and peat;

a bundle of crab pots he had on his boat,

He beckoned me aboard, and away we did float.

 

Up and down the river, we sped mighty quick,

I pushed my doohickey, again and again my shutter did click.

Round and round the boat the pelicans flew

And before I knew it my memory card was through.

 

Pots all filled, I sprang from the boat, gave the pelicans a whistle,

and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard Tommy exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Merry Christmas to all (from Reflections on Broward),

and to all a Good Night. 

A miniature Crab boat and pelicans, it must be St Tom!

Eight big fat Peli-cones were pushin and pullin da miniature crab boat

On Omar!

On Timiquan!

now Whodat and Spunky, On Fuzzy, on Wuzzy

On George!

and Funky!

To the top of the General!

To the top of the tree!

Fly away!

Fly away!

Fly away all!

Merry Christmas from Reflections on Broward!

and to all a Good night. Be Blessed.

Duck Duck Goose!

     Duck duck goose! As I sit with a friend practicing bird flight shooting techniques on Goose pond, this old familiar child’s game comes into memory from years long ago.  The pond is full of ducks and geese today. The sky is a brilliant blue with some high white cirrus streaks.  The Canada Geese honk their approach. They come in flights like a squadrons of fighter jets in formation. As they circle the pond, they turn and glide into a graceful approach.  The landings however are only as graceful as a fat goose can get. And then we get a surprise visitor.

     As we look into the sky at some circling vultures another large dark winged bird appears among them. A majestic Bald Eagle glides high over the pond. The eagle is definitely interested in something, most likely a duck. It goes into a landing glide to perch in a tall pine across the road. As the eagle’s claws reach out to grasp the limb the blackbirds sound the alarm and begin to dive bomb the intrusive raptor to get it to leave. No duck for this eagle today.

     It is definitely the start of duck season on the Broward also. I spot the Hooded Mergansers this week for the first time since last winter. Time to get out the blind and see if we can get some close encounters of the hoodie kind. The Editors favorite, the Pie Billed Grebe, is also making more frequent trips into our small lagoon. The Snowy Egrets and other herons looking for opportune fish that the Grebe scatters while swimming underwater often trail these diving birds. Blue and Green Wing Teal and other ducks are also being seen in the local ponds and rivers. They launch like a rocket when they take flight. Duck duck goose, tag, you’re it!

     Winter mornings are a special time of reflection for me. I marvel at how time has flown the past year. Seems only yesterday I was focusing on a small furtive sparrow on the dock with my new camera and lens. Since then thousands of bird photos have been captured on this dock.  Thankfully some were even worth sharing. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have taking them. Wonder what the coming New Year will bring? Duck duck Goose!  Since you’re “it” I am going to take a little rest now and get a cup of coffee. Be Blessed. Harry

Duck..

Duck..Duck..

GOOSE!, tag, you're it! Canada Goose fly by.

Here we come!

Whoaa there!

Touchdown! The Goose has landed..sorta

A Majestic Bald Eagle soars over the pond. Hmmm, those duck look delicious..

Maybe I will just drop in for a while.

Geesh, you don't have to go away mad,,,just go away! Blackbirds pester the Eagle..
 

Ducks on the river. Green Wing Teal (two on the left) and Blue Wing Teal (on the right).

Green Wing Teal blast off!

Hey, you lookin at me?

See ya next week...coffee time!

Winter Mornings

     The morning sky seems painted with pink cotton candy colored clouds. A wispy smoke like layer of fog drifts over the river as I sip my steamy cup of coffee. Winter mornings bring back visions of fields covered in a white blanket of snow, glistening in the morning sun. The crunch of boots on the snow covered ground and frosty breath are memories I cherish. But only in my mind. We don’t have any of that in Florida for the most part except on rare occasions. The only “snow” I see is the white glistening sun on the wings of Snowy Egrets, that are becoming more and more frequent sojourners on the river.

     Four wrinkled headed Wood Storks are on the neighbor’s pier early this morning. Old Man River, the venerable Great Blue Heron, squawks his usual protest and flies to his pier retreat as I step out on the porch to observe the storks. I see some of the smaller migrating birds, a Bluebird and an Eastern Phoebe sitting on top of the Bald Cyprus we call “The General”.  The storks begin to preen and stretch like old men and women getting up from bed in the morning. I watch them leisurely prepare for their morning flight from my dockside chair. They stretch a leg, then a wing. Soon they relieve themselves, a sure sign they are about to fly. Then one by one they step to the edge of the pier, raise their wings and slowly glide off to feed somewhere up the river. I gingerly make my way up the neighbor’s pier after their departure avoiding the white splotches on the decking. There to greet me is my Tricolored Heron friend hunting for minnows. A pair of royal terns fly overhead also on the hunt for breakfast fare. And so it begins. A busy winter morning for the birds of the Broward .

     Those old winter mornings are but a nice memory for me. Yet for some of you waking up today they are a cold reality (and maybe not so enjoyable).  Perhaps you just want to stay in those warm thick quilted covers instead. Go ahead. Get up. Be like the old storks. Stretch those limbs, slowly rise and give thanks for the opportunity this new winter morning brings (but unlike the storks, please visit the facilities before you go). Then enjoy a steamy cup of coffee. And Be Ye Blessed today. Harry

A smoke like layer of fog rises over the water this winter morning on the Broward.

The sun reflecting on a Snowy Egrets wings is the only "snow" I see.

Four wrinkle headed Wood Storks greet the morning light on the neighbor's pier.

Ho Hum...is it time to get moving?

Time to stretch those legs and wings!
 

OK, who goes first? Looks like someone already went!
 

There went Joe!. Three more to go!

There goes Lou, then there were two!
 

TIme, tide and formation wait for none, then there was one.
 

Hey you three, wait up for me!

And away they go, flying low and slow!
 

Bout time you got up the Tricolored Heron seems to say.

The early bird catches the minnows ya know!

The Bluebird eyes me from the top of the General.
 

A migrating Eastern Phoebe keeps an eye on me.

A migrating Eastern Phoebe keeps an eye on me.

A royal tern hunts for breakfast on this fine winter morning on the Broward. See ya next week!

Over the river....

     I know its Christmas time when the Brown Pelicans return and fly over the river. Guess who I saw this past week? What Christmas traditions do you have? In North America we often envision eight reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh. This notion originates with an 1823 poem called A visit from St. Nicolas. In Louisiana Papa Noel has eight jolly green alligators “a pullin da pirogue”.  In Alaska some envision those beautiful huskies pulling the sled. There are no reindeer in Africa. Wonder what traditions they have? Surely elephants can’t fly. Norse traditions of old had two flying horned goats pulling a sled with Thor, the God of Thunder that may have given origins to Santa and his flying sleigh. Well in Florida we have some unique traditions also and Pink Flamingos wearing Santa hats are just one. On the salt marshes we have eight Pelicans pulling a Jon boat and delivering Christmas cheer.   

     In one of my earlier blogs I introduced you to Tommy the Crab Fisherman. This time of year there are usually about a dozen Pelicans trailing Tommy as he runs his crab trap lines in the local rivers and marshes. I rowed up to Tommy on my Kayak one day and asked him if I could tag along sometime and photograph the Pelicans. He agreed and recently I had a chance to do just that. Tommy has been crabbing all his life, working sometimes six or seven days a week to make a living. He enjoys his life on the river.  It’s hard work and at times the crab are scarce.  Tommy sometimes has to then take other jobs to make ends meet. He would much rather be back on the river crabbing though. He told me stories of the many birds he has rescued from fishing line and plastic can wrappers. One day he found an Osprey hanging upside down entangled in fishing line, nearly exhausted to death. Tommy carefully extracted the line. The poor bird was too tired to fly and just sat there, happy the ordeal was over. That is the kind of man Tommy is. When he called to pick me up he thought there would be no pelicans but we gave it a try. At first there was only one, then two, and finally about a dozen Brown Pelicans were following us up and down the Broward. A few White Pelicans also joined the parade. I only took about seven or eight hundred photos.

     Well whatever Christmas time traditions you enjoy, I hope and pray that the coming Christmas season will find you filled with excitement and happiness. I also hope you enjoy the Pelicans of the Broward as they go “Over the river” and that they put a smile on your face today while you sip your coffee. You can thank Tommy too. And remember the real reason for the season. Be Blessed. Harry

Tommy has a captive audience of Pelicans as he runs his crab traps on the Broward.

Enroute to pick me up, a few Pelicans begin to gather.

Tommy has been crab fishing all his adult life. He worries that over regulation may kill the crab fishing trade though.

First one Brown Pelican appears gliding by.

Then two!

Wait for us..more begin to follow.

Fresh Blue Crab go into the box.

Eager beaks await some spare bait fish.

Say Ahhhh!..aw just gimme some fish! Juvenile Brown pelican.

A fish fight begins, one robs the other.

A shy one waits.

Two White Pelicans join the parade.

The White Pelican is nearly twice the size of the Brown.

Lift off, Houston we have lift off!

Floating on air.

Bye Mr. Tommy, thanks for the ride! Little Blue Heron bids us goodbye.

email: selsorhd@me.com

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