After yesterday’s extended pelican encounter I was hyped with anticipation on what the new day would bring. A cool westerly breeze was blowing up the Broward. It was high tide and there was a low deck of scattered stratocumulus blocking most of the sun. Occasionally it would peek through and brighten the marsh. As I walked to the pier I heard the familiar Keee-yaw of our neighborhood Red Shouldered Hawk. Its piercing cry echoed through the marsh as if to put the world on notice it was hunting and you better lie low.

     I search the trees and sky for the hawk. I hear it screech again. Kee-Yaw, Kee-Yaw. Then I see it silhouetted against the sky as it flies up the marsh. It takes a perch in a far tree, but the ominous shape is scarcely defined in the dark barren branches. A ray of sun illuminates it as if to say, I see you! I go to my blind and take a warm sip of coffee from my thermos. I give thanks for the day and just have a little conversation. The words "Fear Not for I have conquered the world" ring in my mind. No need to fear the preying eyes of the hawk. That is unless of course you are a poor hapless bird on the marsh. I see the hawk swoop down about a quarter of a mile away low over the marsh and scare up a group of Red-Winged blackbirds. It rises up then swoops down for a strike. I press the doohickey even though it is too far too see. As I process this photo I can see seven or eight birds fleeing the hawk and one poor bird directly in the diving path of the beak and claws of the hawk. Life once again plays on the stage before me. I ponder the meaning and watch the sky. A few Royal Terns (remember Ralph and Rhonda?) sweep high over the marsh and look for breakfast. They hover gracefully over my blind as if obliging my efforts to practice my birds in flight techniques on them. I just knew there had to be more today as I patiently wait over an hour. A group of four pelicans begin an aerial reconnaissance of the deep channel. I hope they turn towards me in anticipation of another day like yesterday. But alas, they just keep going. Suddenly, I hear a loud splash to my right and look up to see a Pied Billed Grebe rushing out of the march with a fish nearly half its size hanging from its mouth. It leaps out into the deeper water right in front of me. I start pressing the doohickey. The fish is hanging from its mouth and flipping its tail up and down in useless protest. It reminds me of the KISS musician Gene Simmons and his big tongue hanging out and wagging. The grebe certainly has a bountiful breakfast in its beak but can’t seem to swallow the whale of a catch. Then it does something I observed last week in a similar situation and submerges with the fish in its mouth. A moment later it surfaces with a satisfied smile on its beak. It must be easier to swallow whole underwater. A gust of wind nearly lifts the blind from the dock. I head for the shed as the pelicans finally comes over my lagoon. Oh well, I got my grebe shot and it was great! I think I will have a fish sandwich for lunch today too!

     Fear not. Each day the spirit of fear goes forth from the heavens to earth and puts all on notice just like the hawk. We can become its victim or we can choose to ignore it. Sometimes that is hard, just like the poor blackbirds discovered. But they had plenty of warning. FDR’s timeless words remind us “The Only thing we have to Fear is Fear itself”. And we are also told, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. Which sounds more comforting to you? Fear not! Be Blessed. Harry

Thick stratocumulus clouds over the Broward.

The shrill morning cry of a Red Shouldered Hawk spreads fear over the marsh.

A ray of sun exposes the hawks perch.

A Red-Winged sentinel sounds the alarm over the marsh, beware, the hawk is hunting!

The hawk zeroes in on its prey as the other birds scatter!

A Pied Billed Grebe emerges from the marsh with a fresh catch. Burger King isn't the only home of the whopper!

The fish continues to struggle in vain.

Once again I see the grebe submerge with the fish. It swallows the fish underwater.

Now that was a nice fish sandwich. Note the grebe's beak beginning to sport a black vertical stripe for mating season.

See ya!


All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

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