Flight of the Ibis..

     Last fall I shared with you the migration story of a huge flock of White Ibis. They were heading south for the winter. About this time in February of last year we had a local visitation for about a week of a flock of returning immature Ibis heading north. I was hoping to see some again this time of year.  I glanced out the back door and saw a solitary White Ibis on the naked bole of an oak tree on the river bank. Winter trees barren of leaves, leave little place for a bird of this size to hide. As I stated in my State of the Broward Address, things are slow this time of year so I was excited to try to sneak up close to this Ibis for a photo op.

     Using stealth and concealment I slowly approach the Ibis, hoping not to scare it. Ok, honestly I just sort of walked slowly up to it hoping it would lift off and I would get the shot I wanted. It just turned, stared at me and yawned, and went back to resting on one leg. My back and arms ached holding the camera for so long waiting for “the shot”. Finally I left and went on the neighbors dock hoping it would give me a fly by with the sun at my back. An hour later the bird is still there so I return to right beneath the tree and ask it, “Will you please take off so I can get a photo?” The look it gave me was almost a Kodak moment. It turned, squated, and then relieved itself. That is a clue it is about to fly. The Ibis then stretches a leg and wing.  Looking back with a glance, it then turns and lifts its wings and is gone. An hour and a half I waited for this shot and it went the wrong way! Another “bird butt shot” for the books.

     We all have those kind of days I am sure. Patience and perseverance are sometimes still met with frustration. There is always a hot cup of coffee waiting to give me solace. The next day I get a beautiful morning fly by of a Black Crowned Night Heron and some Snowy Egrets. And on Valentine's day a "Feather Mob" of immature Ibis again land in the yard across the street, almost a year to the day. And no bird butt shots! Be Blessed. Harry

Recently I have seen a few small flocks of White Ibis heading north on their return migration. Wonder if they will stop by again this year?

A White Ibis sits on the naked limbs of a barren oak tree by the river bank, resting on one leg. For an hour!

It scarcely gives me notice so I leave for the neighbor's dock hoping for a fly by shot.

Oh. You again! Will I what? 

Watch out below...

Oh, these legs and wings are stiff from standing on these limbs...

It turns and lifts its wings...

The Ibis slowly leans forward and lifts off….in the wrong direction..

Another Bird Butt Shot!

Taking the "Red Eye" home. A Black Crowned Night returns to roost from a night on the marsh..

Another Snowy "Blizzard" Egret fly by on the Broward..

No butt shots here !

Morning Tide reflection…time for a cup of coffee.

The White Ibis "Feather Mob" returns to the same yard almost a year to the day! Without a watch even!

Someone say Feather Mob?

Wings up landing..no bird butt shots here!

Look before you leap!

Cause it's too late after that first step! AHHHG

Flight of the Ibis heading north!

Gus & Greta..a Great Blue Love Story

     In early December I participated in a workshop at the Viera Wetlands and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. While at the wetlands I noticed a Great Blue Heron was camped out on a nice nesting site on top of the perfect palm tree. This Great Blue Heron had the location, location, and location. He begins to call for a mate to come join him. We will call him Gus. Gus was new to this courtship thing apparently and his approach and throaty call was not too successful. Not one pretty female would join him.  Fast forward to 21 January when I visited the Wetlands again. There was ole Gus giving it all he had by this time. I mean look at the stretch in those vocal cords and the neck display. But Gus was still a very lonely Great Blue Heron. But he must have hit the right note with someone.

     The following morning I returned to the Wetlands and there was ole Gus all right. Perched next to him was a drop dead beautiful female Great Blue “Heroness”. Let’s call her Greta. In the human world, some courtships begin with a look, followed by a date, then the courting, followed by engagement, and then marriage. Then the couple buys a home or as some would say, “build a nest” together. This process can take from months to years. It moves a bit faster than that in the bird world. It has to because they don’t live as long as we humans for the most part. From “the look", to nest building can happen in an hour or so. The male must demonstrate the ability to fetch a stick for a nest that has to be just the right stick. Not too big. Not too small. Just right. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I have about a thousand pictures I went through to say just a few words. Gus got lucky.

     Gus must have gotten it right because Greta seemed thrilled with his selections. The rest is shall we say, bird history, I hope. I think we can safely say this is the start of the next Great Blue Heron generation for Gus and Greta. The entire staff of Reflections hopes you a had a Happy Valentines this week with your loved one. If your loved one was not there, perhaps they are just somewhere else getting a new nest prepared just for you. Be Blessed. Harry 

Meet Gus the lonely Great Blue Heron. Since early December he has been putting on a display and vainly calling for a mate on this perfect location for romance.

And then it happened..Gorgeous Greta, a Great Blue "Heroness" lands on his palm tree pad and gives Gus "the look". 

Gus, go fetch me a stick, a big one, and show me you are serious about this.

Gus returns in a flash. Greta eyes the big stick. 

Greta carefully places the stick right where she wants it.. 

That was a good start there Gus..now go get me another one!

Gus brings her another stick..

and then another one..she eyes the stick carefully..as well as the handsome broad winged bird carrying it..

Gus asks Greta for that first kiss...

Oh Gus, you give me goose bump feathers all over says Greta...

Gus and Greta are both thinking…this is the one!

You like these tail feathers there big fella?

Yes I do Greta…will you be my Valentine and mate? Why yes I will says Greta with her feathers all a fluff..

She said YES,. She said Yes yells Gus across the wetlands so all can hear the good news...

She said YES,. She said Yes yells Gus across the wetlands so all can hear the good news...

You have my heart  there Gus…now get rid of that guy with the doohickey over there and we will make this official if you know what I mean..

It was a beautiful Blue Heron moon that night on the wetlands…Happy Valentines Day to all of you..from Gus, Greta and  Reflections..

Things are different here...

     The 1000 mile long blizzard and a 1500 mile swath of arctic air with freezing temperatures have spread numbing cold, ice, and snow across much of the northeast and plains states the past few weeks.  Punxsutawney Phil made his infamous prognostication. Six more weeks of winter is forecast. So spring will be here come rain or shine on the 21st of March. I have news for you folks north of the Interstate 10 corridor. Things are different here below the corridor. The rules of nature do not apply. Down here it is “Orange sky in morning, “Seminoles” take warning”. Orange sky at night, Gator’s delight.

     Meet Broward Bob, the Little Blue Heron and southern weather prognosticator extraordinaire. While Phil was looking for his shadow, Broward Bob was peering into the Broward River looking for his reflection. If he sees it that means a Snowy (Egret) Blizzard is coming soon. If no reflection is seen, then spring is coming early. Like, maybe next week. I observed Broward Bob that fateful February 2nd day. He took his stance on the official spot on the riverbank and casting all aspersions aside, peered into the river. “My Oh My”, exclaimed Broward Bob. “What a handsome Little Blue Heron devil you are staring up at me in my reflection!” No sooner were these words out of his beak when I saw it coming. The Snowy Blizzard came racing up the Broward. Time to crank up the shutter speed before I press the doohickey. Dipping low beneath the marsh grass, the Snowy (Egret) Blizzard came blowing up the channel and banked in front of me. The suns reflection on the Snowy’s white wings were blinding.  However, I kept the blizzard in the crosshairs and pressed the doohickey and managed to capture this historic moment for all my readers to see. After that it was party time! The Snowy Egret was joined by a Tricolored Heron, Old Man River (the Great Blue Heron), a Wood Stork , a Cormorant, and a few Pied Billed Grebes for free Broward refreshments. While the Tricolored heron munched on minnow snacks, the cormorant swallowed a whale of a catch. Then the food ran out with the tide.

     You see, things are just different down here! Soon the March winds will be blowing. Will it come in like a screaming eagle or the gentle breeze of a mourning dove? I will ask Broward Bob to look into things to see what is coming. In the meantime, grab a fresh cup of coffee and keep warm up there north of I-10 cause “things are different down here” according to Broward Bob.  (Bob’s name is easier to spell also). And I am so glad. Be Blessed. Harry

Orange Sky in morning, "Seminoles" take warning…..

Meet Broward Bob, the Little Blue Heron and official weather prognosticator for the Broward (not as well known perhaps as Punxsutawney Phil but easier to spell).

My Oh My what a handsome fellow! I do believe a Snowy (Egret) Blizzard is a coming! 

Sure enough, I look up and see a Snowy (Egret) Blizzard a coming..better up the shutter speed !

The Snowy blizzard wings over and goes by ...

The wings are blinding white as the snowy arrives

There is Snowy everywhere!

The Snowy lands on the rock where Broward Bob gave his fateful forecast. 

Touchdown!

I'm baackk like a blizzard…for six more weeks!

Don't be depressed over the Blizzard, Us folks with yellow feet can't get depressed long anyway!

I'll just hang around here till late March or so..

Got any food there Mr Doohickey?

Somebody say food? Where?

Fresh Minnows!

Down the hatch!

Gulp!, this one is a tad bit hard to swallow! Quips the Cormorant.

Who ate all the food said the Wood Stork!

Burrp!, Not me said the Pied Billed Grebe..

If the food is gone, I'm outta here!

Me too, said the Great Blue!

The Tri Colored heron leaves, that makes three!

Will the March winds come in like a Screaming Eagle or gentle breeze like a Mourning Dove? Only Broward Bob knows!…stay tuned..

Orange sky at night, Gator's delight..

Perspective

     I recently traveled to Titusville Florida to attend some workshops at the annual Space Coast Wildlife and Birding Festival. It is a very well attended outing in one of my favorite bird photography locations on the east coast of this fine state. I gained a good perspective on camera exposure techniques from one of the best in the business, Mr Maxis Gamez.

     Arriving the afternoon before the workshop, I head to the Viera Wetlands to capture the evening sunset. It was a beautiful day in Florida, blue skies, a high near 70 and no bugs! Perfect weather. This time of year the water is cold and the gators are sluggish and crawl on the bank on sunny days to keep warm. With caution you can safely approach them closer than normally possible. One eight plus footer was on the bank with a few smaller friends nearby. Seeing eye to eye with an apex predator of this ecosystem is indeed a thrill. Some might say a chill. The cry of an Osprey catches my ear. I look up in time to see a Bald Eagle swoop in and snatch a free fish dinner away from the poor bird who had made a nice catch for dinner. To the victor goes the spoils they say. There were numerous Ring-necked Ducks, Gallinules, Coots, Anhinga and other familiar visitors to the wetlands. As I got out of my truck to capture a photo, a coppery colored reptile slithers across the sandy berm only a few feet away and stops. I observe it for a minute or two and slowly position myself ahead of its intended path. Have you ever stared a cottonmouth in the eye? Well, I lived to tell about it and later enjoyed a spectacular sunset.

     Things that appear harmless from a distance can fool you. Danger is everywhere. I don’t recommend you stare down a cottonmouth but sometimes getting a different perspective can give you new insight. Be blessed. Harry

See how my new tooth whitener is doing, no more ugly fish stains! (this picture was not cropped)

Eight feet plus of lazy gator,,,I hope, best to let sleeping dogs and GATORS lie..

I'm watching you Mr Doohickey!

Don't leave your feet in the water,,there are gators out there remember!

A Limpkin enjoys the afternoon sunshine.

Ring-necked Duck female

The most widely distributed member of the rail family, the Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile, from northern Europe to southern Africa, and across Asia to the Pacific.

"The waterborne American Coot is one good reminder that not everything that floats is a duck." Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

Male Anhinga, with breeding season colors around the eye

To the victor goes the spoils..Bald Eagle robs a fish dinner from the Osprey..or wealth redistribution as some would call it..

I saw this same single male Great Blue Heron in December. He is doing displays to attract a mate..so far no luck. 

Juvenile cottonmouth slithers across the sandy road..adults are much larger and darker.

Snake Eyes...It's all about perspective..life that is...

Sunset Viera Wetlands

email: selsorhd@me.com

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