Ladies of the Club

     The moon was bright and magnified in the predawn light and just beginning to wane. I tried my new “1.4x extender” on my lens to see what it would do on that moon. Us photographers just have to have a few more millimeters. I also wanted to see how it would do on more distant birds. The tide was rising and with it came the punctual Pied-Billed Grebes. I got some good reflection shots of a few of them. One surfaced with a fish but dove immediately to swallow it. And then they came.

     Flying low in from the west I hear, then see them, a small group of mallard hens. They fly over the little channel then circle around just overhead, just checking things out it seems. Then they circle again. They slow down. I think they are going to land, but they go around again. Then once more they circle and head back in the direction they came from. Fickle these mallards. Spunky the Kingfisher’s distinctive chitter fills the marsh. Sure enough, there she is on top of the neighbor’s gourd birdhouse pole. She flies off to the old dock before I can focus and lands on a piling. Good time to see how far this lens combo will reach. When I look at the display Spunky is recognizable, but barely. I know the limit of the lens combo now. Then I look up. There they are again. That little group of mallard hens, the “Ladies of the Club” as I call them. They hang around under the dock, as if gossiping about some goose and spreading malicious mud lies about another mallard. You can still see the “dirt” on one of the Ladies’ beak. They spot me and turn tailfeathers and head the other way toward Spunky’s perch. The morning sun begins to turn golden. I spot a grebe approaching the Ladies. She tries to join them it seems but they just ignore her and keep swimming away. It’s true. Birds of a feather do flock together. The Ladies of the Club make sure no other feathers can flock with them though. They leave Spunky and the little grebe alone and dejected and head back towards me. They pause at the dock separating us and with a quick leap they are airborne and fly away.  The Ladies of the Club have adjourned their little “morning” soiree on the Broward. 

     We have all seen them, those gossiping little groups. It’s not just the Ladies though. We want to join them in the fun but they will have no part of it. Alone again. We go our separate ways. Well, I don’t want to leave you out on the dock all by yourself today. Come on, let’s go have a cup of coffee. Be Blessed. Harry

* "And Ladies of the Club" a book by Helen Hooven Santmyer



The moon is just beginning to wane in the predawn sky.

Pied Billed Grebe surfaces after a dive.

Pied-Billed Grebe reflecting in the morning sun.

Spunky perches on a piling (trust me).

The Ladies of the Club, four mallard hens arrive.

They gossip under the dock, spreading dirt on other birds of the marsh.

They spot me and turn tail-feathers.

A small Grebe tries to join the Ladies.

The "Ladies" ignore the grebe and swim away. Spunky looks on from above, her reflection showing.

The ladies prepare to leave, but not before spreading some fresh mud around.

The Snowy calls out, Hey Tri, did you hear what that mallard hen said about you?

Hi Snowy, No, what did they say? I am going to keep my eye on them.

Embarrassed, the tricolored heron leaves. See Ya!


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