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