The moon was half gone but bright in the rising sun. High cirrus clouds were blowing from the southwest against a sky blue canopy. Familiar birds greet me as I walk up the neighbor’s pier, waiting on the tide. They fly off towards the abandoned pier as I get closer, all except the Tricolored Heron. It just flies up to its perch on the pole and seems to eye me a hello as I stop and greet it. Only then did it fly off to join the others. A beautiful Broward morning.
I sit down, thankful for the day and get comfortable in the blind. The warm coffee tastes good on this cool morning. Not a blade of grass in the marsh is moving. No other birds appear except for a Red-Winged Blackbird trying to ride the wild dolphin wind-vane. Closing my eyes, the sounds of the marsh fill my mind as I wait and ponder. The response to the North Jax Monthly article has been great, giving me contact with several more local bird photographers. We have been sharing stories and wonderful photographs. Suddenly, a brown streak flies low over the marsh (a familiar large Red Shouldered Hawk!). The raptor is too fast to get a good focus. A verse comes to mind. “They that wait upon the Lord….” I decide to wait, just a bit longer. A white speck of an Osprey appears in the distance with another larger dark raptor shape. This gives a great opportunity to focus in on them and test the lens. A quick glance up from the viewfinder shows there are now three large raptors. Two with white-feathered heads join the darker one. It is a family of Bald Eagles with a juvenile! The two adults begin a slow flying circle in unison like a choreographed dance as they observe their young eagle. Their bright white feathers gleam in the sun against a sky blue backdrop. Breathtaking. Yes indeed, the eagle still flies. Three of them! One continues flying up the marsh towards my position. Just a little bit closer. Wait… Now press the doohickey! Got it! The eagle soars by and crosses the river and lands in a tree on the opposite bank. The other two are gone. Where? And how do I share this moment with you? In the darkroom. Today the computer has replaced the darkroom where film photographers once created (and some still do) their wonders. The distant pictures when processed are not as good as I hope. The eagles are too far away in all but a few. Cropping them allows details to emerge. In the photo of the adult pair, the bottom bird is missing half a feather on the left wing primary feathers. Primary feathers cover wing bones that are similar to our fingers. I think back to the eagle on Goose Pond. It too had a broken primary feather on the left wing. Hmmm, same bird? The Broward now has a mating pair with a nearly grown juvenile and one adult I think we can identify. Hopefully other Broward photographers can catch some even better shots. I’ll be waiting.
What a day! Five raptors, three of which were Great Bald Eagles. It was worth the wait. We all need to slow down sometimes and just wait. You will be surprised at what happens when you just give it time. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;..”. I am certainly renewed as I mount up my gear and head for the house. But I am still walking, for now that is. Be Blessed. Harry