Close encounters..

     The phone rings. It is a friend calling to ask me if I can see the moon this morning. Grabbing my camera I head for the dock and catch a near full (but waning) moon set on one horizon as the sun rises on the other. The cloudless, ice blue sky bodes a cold day for the Broward. A small raft of female Hooded Merganser ducks swim around the river bend and head in my direction as if in formation.  A Snowy Egret trails them looking for stray fish spooked by the ducks. Out of the corner of my eye I spot an incoming pelican as it heads right towards me. Hidden by the Jon boat motor, the Pelican does not see me and lands on the other side of the motor. I slowly turn around.  The young Pelican is way too close to get a photo. Spotting me now with those brown eyes wide open, the Pelican calmly and slowly raises its wings, lifts off, and heads up the Broward. I just had a close encounter of the Pelican kind.

     As I watch the sun’s rays stretch over the marsh I spot a Northern Harrier hawk flying low over the grassy island. I anticipate a wing-over maneuver as it approaches the dock. Sure enough it looks up, sees me, and goes into the wing-over and catches the golden morning light on its wings. Click. A close encounter of the Harrier kind. Later, I watch some Snowy Egret antics. There always seems to be one Snowy in the group that has something against one of the others. Watching them fluff and display is entertaining as well as beautiful. I was about to go in when I spotted a pair of Hooded Mergansers swim around the channel heading my way. The light is perfect. They turn around. Rats! A moment later they return and head right at me. I am sitting as still as possible as I focus in on the approaching ducks. I can hardly believe my eyes as they get closer and closer. I have never had them approach so seemingly unaware before. As the male Merganser is about to go under the dock beneath my feet, it glances up and spots me, its crowned hood feathers alert showing like a white flag. The male Merganser dives as it goes beneath the dock. The female detours to my left around the floating dock, also alerted. But not before I capture the moment. Close encounters of the Hoodie kind. What a morning!

     Last year as I began my journal I made a list of birds I wanted to capture. Got all of them. At the start of this year I made another list of birds I wanted better or closer photographs of.  Hooded Mergansers were right up there on both lists. Both years I shared my list with God as I prayed over them to have encounters and to photograph. What more can I say? Not only did I get close encounters with my fowl feathered friends this week, I got an even closer encounter with the One who spoke them into existence on the fifth day as I recalled His words…”Consider the birds of the air..”. I am hoping for such an encounter for you today too. Be Blessed. Harry

A waning full moon begins to set over the Broward as the sun rises on the opposite horizen

As the moon sets and the sun rises, a raft of female Hooded Mergansers round the channel.

A raft of female Hooded Mergansers drift by in formation.

Snowy Egret trails the hoodies looking for opportune catches.

Snowy Egret trails the hoodies looking for opportune catches.

Tail feather end of a Close Encounter of the Pelican kind

Northern Harrier hawk flies low over the marsh looking for prey.

Northern Harrier hawk flies low over the marsh looking for prey.

Classic wing over maneuver as it spots me. Golden rays catch the wings. Close encounter of the Harrier kind.

A pair of Hooded Mergansers round the bend, they turn away before returning again.

I can't believe my eyes as the Mergansers approach so closely!

The male alerts and it's hood stands up like a white warning flag! It dives beneath my feet at the dock.

The female now alerted alters course and heads away. Close enounters of the Hoodie kind.

Snowy making an approach. Broward Tower this is Snowy, requesting Emergency landing!

Watch out!

Any landing you walk away from is a good one they say!

Red sky in morning..

     Red sky in morning, sailors take warning! The Editor glances out the window and says, “look at the sky, you need to get that”. Grabbing my landscape lens and camera I head for the dock as fast as I can to capture the moment before it is gone. I stand in spellbound awe at the colors in the east as they begin to glow a fiery red and orange. The sun climbs into the morning sky as the colors quickly fade to blue. A sure sign of an approaching storm, this old adage proves correct as a strong frontal passage with heavy rain occurs within 24 hours. But not before I push the doohickey and capture the moment. That evening the local Fox 30 news TV weatherman displays my photo of Red Dawn for all of Jacksonville to see.

     This week as I head out to the dock I see Old Man River, the Great Blue Heron sitting on the bow of the neighbor’s Jon boat. Like Yogi Berra said, “It’s Déjà vu all over again”. This is the same image I saw a year ago when I started this journey. And like before, I hear the venerable heron’s squawk of protest before it takes wing to the old pier. As I approach the floating dock, a Little Blue Heron, a couple of Snowy Egrets and my Tricolored Heron friend all lift off from the marsh and join Old Man River. “Is it something I said?” I exclaim! No sooner had I said that than I see the Tricolored Heron lift off again and head back my way. He glides right in front of me and lands nearby at the foot of the floating pier gangway to join me as we wait and watch. Good friends never forsake you. I sip my coffee as we catch the sunrise.

    It is a cold frosty morning.  The heron sits with its feathers all fluffed as if to keep warm. It lifts one foot from the frost-covered boards and serenely stares at the sunrise while giving me an assuring glance. Smoke like fog dances on the water. As the sun begins to rise it begins to melt the frost from the boards beneath me. It looks like the dock is smoldering as the vapors condense and rise swirling in the air. We enjoy the sunrise and greet the warmth it brings.

     The red sky was indeed a harbinger of impending weather and hopefully not a bad omen for the start of this New Year.  This old weather lore is grounded in biblical truth (see Matt 16: 2-3). So too was the scene I witnessed when my feathered friend returned to join me watch the sunrise. Friends are like that. Share a moment with one of yours this week if you can. You never know what the sunrise might bring. Be Blessed. Harry

Red Sky in Morning, Sailors take warning. Red Dawn over the Broward.

It's Deja Vu all over again. Old Man River, the Great Blue Heron begins the year like the last, on his favorite perch.

Old Man River retreats to his other favorite pier.

This Little Blue Heron, some Snowy Egrets and my Tricolored Heron Friend soon join Old Man River.

It is a blustery cold morning on the dock.

The Snowy is perturbed with one of the other egrets and chases it off.

My Tricolored Heron friend rejoins me on the dock.

We watch the sunrise and try to keep warm as I sip my coffee.

Smoke like fog swirls on the water while the dock seems to smolder from the evaporating frost.

No matter what the morning brings, a true friend will never leave you or forsake you.

I'll fly away...

     The journal continues. 2013 is behind us. I had a wonderful journey. A good friend said he does not reflect on the past year because we can’t change it. Not sure I want to even if I could. 2014 has not started out so well though. You know the Bengals lost. A lack of sunlit days have made photography a real challenge too.

     We only have today it is said, so let’s reflect on that instead. Today I hope is a good one for you. When I started this journey last January I sat out there on the dock every day I could. Neither rain, nor hail, nor snowy’s (Egrets that is), nor sleet stopped reflections from going to press. I have hundreds of poorly lit photos to prove it. Photography literally means painting with light. To paint a better picture this year I need learn to use that light better, either natural or man made with fill flash.

     Remember that real neat expensive lens the Editor was supposed to get me for Christmas (It didn’t show up under my tree)?  However, it did show up this week as a loaner from the manufacturer. So far I have proven you can take real bad pictures even with a twelve thousand dollar lens. It also weighs a lot. Don’t get me wrong. It is a fine piece of engineering and manufacturing but my old broken wrist felt the old "pain" the first time I tried to handhold it. So I think that for today (and this coming year) I will just focus on the good things I have in life; my old lens, my old camera, my (older) Editor, and just become better at using available light whenever possible.  I also hope and pray the good Lord will continue to bring these feathered friends close enough to capture and share. So far He sent a snowy owl all the way from the Arctic just so I could see it. The park rangers put up barriers so us photographers wouldn’t “stress” the owl. I have never seen such an unstressed bird in my life. That owl sat for two hours, didn’t move, preened and yawned and barely opened an eye. Reminded me more of my three wiener dogs in front of the fire on a lazy winter afternoon. Oh, to be so stressed! The park ranger was the only one who really seemed stressed to me.

     The sun finally peeked out for a few hours Friday so I headed to the beach. When I arrived I found it enveloped in a fog bank from the warm ocean air.  It makes for great mood shots but you just can’t get good bird pictures in these conditions. However, on the way home I spotted an Osprey enjoying lunch sitting on a power pole. Out came the new lens and I pushed the doohickey. Must have “stressed it” because she took off with lunch in tow. Birds have a neat way of dealing with stress. They have wings and can just fly away (can't wait to get some of those wings). On the old pier down by the neighbors I also captured a Little Blue Heron with an apparent “attitude”.  Unlike this little heron (and until I have wings), I choose to have an attitude of gratitude for "today" and just want to share it with you throughout this coming year. I’m back..hope you are blessed. Harry

Neither rain, nor hail, nor Snowy's (Egrets), nor sleet shall stop  Reflections  from going to press!

Neither rain, nor hail, nor Snowy's (Egrets), nor sleet shall stop Reflections from going to press!

A " Stressed"  Snowy Owl sits on the dune..for two hours..

A "Stressed" Snowy Owl sits on the dune..for two hours..

You toucha my fish, I peck you eyes out!

You toucha my fish, I peck you eyes out!

A Stressed Osprey just says I'll fly away!

Little Blue Heron with an Attitude!

Three "stressed" wiener dogs by the fire..have an attitude of gratitude today!


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

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.