Ratatouille

     Anyone for a succulent dish of French provincial vegetables? Pixar’s animated movie of the same name, gave Remy the Rat a lot of notoriety. Unfortunately, the Editor felt no heartwarming joy when we got an unwanted visitor in the house around Thanksgiving of the rodent variety. Yes, the Editor is a deplorable Rataphobic!!!

     Our visitor might have come in with the Christmas Tree or perhaps the back door which is often open to allow the dogs access to the back yard to “take care of business”. When I got a glimpse of how huge it was I decided to call in the professionals. They assured me that one or two visits with their traps would be all that is needed. After a month of no success I tried the electric traps to no avail. In the meantime, “Ratatouille” destroyed our Bose Speakers, a wall unit lighting cord and made a stinking mess in the living room wall unit. It gorged on dog food, pilling huge stashes under cabinets. As I would clean up one lair, it would seem to disappear for a few days only to establish another and then another. I began to get strange odors in my office. That was it for me.

     After two months of this I declared war, said some prayers and armed myself with the armor of God (and a semi-automatic BB pistol). I locked myself in my office and vowed only one of us would make it out alive. After moving every piece of heavy furniture a few times it sprang out and the battle was on. When the dust cleared it was Mr Doohickey -1, Ratatouille- Zero!.

     Now when my brother visits this week from Ohio we won’t have to worry about it. Not much activity on the Broward save a few Hooded Mergansers. I want to go to the Viera wetlands to see the nesting Great Blue Herons soon. Most should be feeding a new generation. Wonder if they want some Rat stew? 

Hope to visit the Great Blue Herons soon. I don't think they want Ratatouille though..

Hey Mr Doohickey, want a snake to go with your Ratatouille? 

Love the background colors exposed in this one by adjusting the shadow exposure..

At first I thought this was a female Hooded Merganser..

Turns out they are juvenile males, note the yellow eyes, female have dark red eyes..

Who you calling a girl?

Like water over a ducks back...Pied-billed Grebe in early morning light..

Ratatouille anyone? 

Duck Duck Goose

     Brutal winter weather blows over the Broward. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s. Can’t wait for spring to come. There are only three birds I regularly see on the Broward lately. A Little Blue Heron that I call Broward Bob, a Snowy Egret and a Tricolored Heron. The latter two I call “The Bickersons”. Wherever the Tricolored Heron goes, the Snowy follows and relentlessly pesters the other for the best fishing hole. The Pied-billed Grebes are still here too as well as the Hooded Mergansers but I rarely get a close up. Time to look elsewhere for photos.

     Perdue Pond (aka Goose Pond)  is another local place I used to love to photograph ducks and geese. At one time it was a beautiful cedar tree lined retention pond with a well mowed grass walkway around it. Canada Geese stayed there nearly year-round, fed by local folks with free corn. Who wouldn’t stick around when there are free handouts. Then the left-wing lunatics took over and made it a “wildlife preserve”. They don’t mow the grass, you can’t walk around the pond to take photos due to the high underbrush, and they will fine and arrest you for disturbing the weeds that choke the once pristine paths. It went all “natural” except for the hypocritical free corn provided to keep the ducks and geese there. What is natural about that?

     I move on to another local birding site at Sheffield Park. They still mow the grass, have paved walkways and a nice pond. But there is no free corn provided. I thought “the Bickersons” were bad. You should have seen the goose squabble I saw. Two Canada Geese were on the shore honking at another couple across the pond. It must have been nasty bad goose language because the pair across the lake started honking back and headed for the two beside me on the bank. They came out of the water very agitated and confronted the other two and then they gave each other a piece of their goose minds. Reminded me of the recent elections and how well folks “get along” lately.

     We have a new regime at the helm in the White House. What I have observed is you can have all the free corn and weeds you want but if you don’t work and maintain the grounds all you get is a place where only vermin run free and a bunch of honking at each other. 

The Pied-billed Grebe, a diving duck swims by me on the Broward..

Hooded Merganser female, another diving duck, landing

Just like in aircraft carrier landings the tail feather hook comes down first

Perfect landing....Wheeeeeee!

Distant shot of two Redhead Ducks...too many weeds on the path to get closer

A pair of Canada Geese honk obscene language at another pair across the pond

What did they just call us? 

Come on, I am going to have some words with that Goose!

You don't talk to me like that you fat goose!

How would you like to be a goose down pillow ?

Blah Blah Blah!

Well Your Moma has duck feet! Honk Honk my tail feathers

Just Chillin....

     Did you hear it Thursday evening? It wasn't the wind. It was the howling of the wolves at the full moon known from Indian lore as the Wolf Moon. Still got your snow-blowers going? The recent cold outbreak over the Central and Eastern US brought freezing temperatures to the Broward but things are warming up a bit now. Dock time has been great the past week. Spent a few days "just chillin" with some feathered friends. Emphasis on chillin..

     The Ibis I chronicled last week are still in the area. One recent morning they flew overhead, spotted me, and circled back to join me on the dock. When a bird flies in and sets itself down within a few feet of you, pulls up its leg and relaxes and gives you every photo op you can imagine, then it is a great day. My lens was literally too big and the birds almost too close to photograph. I spent a good hour “just chillin” with them (literally). Broward Bob, the Little Blue Heron acted like he was completely frozen when I saw him. He just sat there as if his feet were too frozen to the rocks to move. The Snowy Egret and Tricolored Heron were not inclined to move more than a few feet either. They were literally “chillin” too. A bit later the Snowy hopped up on the dock in front of me giving me some great photo opportunities. The morning sun lit up the underside of its wings almost like an X-ray. When I later reviewed the photos in my camera, the translucent glow of its wings brought angels to my mind.  A cute Pied-billed Grebe (one of the Editor’s favorites) popped up in front of me, gave me a look and then acted like a submarine blowing ballast. It’s neck drooped down first, it then took a peek below the surface and submerged head first leaving only a tail feather sticking up for a just moment before it was gone chasing minnows and small bait fish in the muddy Broward.

   If you get an opportunity this week spend some time with friends or family just chillin. Relax, laugh, love, and just enjoy some time together. You will never regret just chillin with your loved ones..even if they do have feathers..Blessings..Harry

Wolf Moon of 12 Jan 17 ...did you hear the howling..it wasn't the wind

The Juvenile White Ibis landed on the dock very near to me ...

The adult White Ibis landed on the copula roof just over my head and peered down at me..

I sat down and relaxed, the Juvenile Ibis pulled up a leg to relax too..

The adult Ibis did the same..and we sat there "just chillin" 

Broward Bob, the Little Blue Heron seems a bit stiff..

The Snowy Egret seemed frozen as snow too..

A Pied-billed Grebe pops up to check the weather...

Too cold up here...time to submerge...

Dive Dive Dive...

The Grebe be gone..bye

The Snowy Egret flies up to the floating dock...its underwings lit up by the morning sun like an X-ray..

You lift me up on Angels Wings...

Take some time "just Chllin" with your friends this week! Even if they have feathers..

Dock Time

      The first real cold snap of the new year has hit the sunshine state. The fireplace is blazing, the coffee is hot and fresh. The steamy aroma is pleasant to my somewhat cold proboscis. I need some dock time. The “She Shed” project has been delayed a few weeks waiting on the engineers to finish their drawings. Don’t have to worry about mosquitos this morning.

     As I watch the sun creep over the marsh grass, I see a Northern Harrier swoop along the tree tops before heading up the Broward. Unfortunately, it is heading in the wrong direction and too far away for a decent photo.  A shadowy wing glides towards me. It has a long curved proboscis beak which must also really be cold this wintery morning. A few mature and juvenile White Ibis have been hanging around the area the past few days. Frequently seen on lawns looking for large insects as well as probing for prey along the shoreline, the White Ibis, a wading bird of the deep South, migrates through this area about twice a year. This morning two mature and one juvenile Ibis join me for some dock time. Aware of my presence, they quickly determine I am no threat and pull up a leg for some rest and relaxation on the dock. The juvenile is brown with white streaks on the tail and belly. The mature adults are all white with black wing tips. The white blotches in the background photos are not snow by the way. The local Tricolored Heron swoops in and joins them for a few moments and does its ritual feather ruffle routine before settling down. The Ibis seem less tolerant of the Heron than they do of me. It gets the hint and soon departs to feed.

     My gaze peers down the river.  A familiar bird is heading right towards me, perfect light, time for a great capture opportunity. Ole Man River, the Great Blue Heron, must have spotted me about the same time. As I prepared to focus on this magnificent bird it did an abrupt course change to the left and went high and to my right over the dock. Maybe not as close as I would like, I pushed the doohickey and got a picture of the stubborn ole bird to start the New Year.

     Dock Time is different now. It is still my favorite time of the day but now the Editor and I find we can go out to breakfast together after I come in.  Although there is an emptiness we notice, we are beginning to get used to the idea there is time we have just for us now. That is a good thing. Hope your New Year is off to a blessed start too. Harry

This Juvenile White Ibis spots me as it glides towards the dock.

Several mature adult American White Ibis glide in to join me too.

The Juvenile does a fly by before landing..

A perfect two point landing..

The Ibis determine I am not threat, relaxes and pulls up a leg to rest..that is not snow on the dock though.

The local Tricolored Heron joins the party...

Time for a feather fluff

A wee bit chilly here this morning..

I see Ole Man River, the Great Blue Heron coming towards me...a rare opportunity..

Ole Man River spots me and veers high and right...

Got ya Ole fella...Happy New Year to you too!

2016 the year in review

     It never hurts to look behind you before going ahead. How did your 2016 go? Did you lose that 20 lbs, take that vacation? Retire? Achieve your goals you set out to do? I did not achieve most of mine because of health issues. In some ways I wish I could forget the month of March and start over. In other ways it made me appreciate each day and future opportunity even more. I think I am a better photographer as a result. Although I had to cancel several planned trips and workshops I still got some pretty good photos of some birds I had not seen before, shared some more Broward bird life with you and hopefully brightened your day a time or two.

     In January I got to meet an acclaimed wildlife trainer and incredible photographer in Mr. William Steele, on a trip to the everglades and captured my first Peregrine Falcon photo. February took me to the Viera Wetlands to see Gus and Greta the Great Blue Herons as they renewed auld acquaintances for a new generation. March again saw the Brown Pelicans on the Broward and then the rest of the month was a blur while I had one of those life changing experiences. Grace brought me thru to springtime and I saw many birds nesting and hatching. My favorite place to see this is the rookery at the Alligator Farm of St. Augustine where Snowy and Great Egrets, Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills breed and raise future generations. I captured a great photo of George the Yellow Crowned Night Heron in the backyard doing his best mating display which was awarded accordingly by the Wildlife Conservation Society. While recovering during the summer months I volunteered to do some bird stewarding / conservation monitoring at a local city park beach. Jacksonville’s Huguenot Beach hosts one of the largest and most successful Royal Tern and Laughing Gull breeding colonies on the east coast. My article and photo called “Under my Wings” on this effort was cited and published again by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. 

     The hot summertime of Florida offered only brief morning dock excursions where the local Broward marsh life captured my attention. In July I got to go with acclaimed photographer and guide Ron Bielefeld’s Whistling Wings tours to see the gathering of the Swallow-tailed Kites to begin their migration journey south to Brazil after breeding in Florida. Fall was not complete without a close encounter of the Barred Owl kind. I then challenged myself to bring a more artistic quality to some of my bird photography of Snowy and Great Egrets. The Editor was so pleased they are now hanging on our wall. Right before Christmas I was notified by a world class photography website called "GURUSHOTS", that my photo of George, the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron doing his mating display, was selected fourth among a world-wide collection of only 17 photos for a featured article on Photographing Birds and the technical challenges capturing them in flight. “George” has now achieved world class fame.

     I hope and pray you enjoyed Reflections on Broward this past year. I will be taking a few weeks break in January to work on a project for the Editor. I am converting our barn into a “She Shed” retreat for the Editor. No, I am not kicking her out of the house, just giving her a special space of her own where she can go and start doing some writing of her own. Maybe she will be as famous as George someday. Till then, Have a Blessed and Happy New Year. 

My first capture of a Peregrine Falcon

Who can forget the love story of Gus and Greta the Great Blue Herons

I was happy to get out of the hospital in March but sad to see the Brown Pelicans leave the Broward after wintering there. 

Springtime is mating and Breeding season for many of the local Marsh Birds like this Roseate Spoonbill captured at the Alligator Farm Rookery in St Augustine

Springtime is mating and Breeding season for many of the local Marsh Birds like this Roseate Spoonbill captured at the Alligator Farm Rookery in St Augustine

This Tricolored Heron just missed a meal but I did not miss the capture in spite of the summer heat

I got to see the migration gathering of the Swallow-tailed Kites preparing to return to Brazil for the winter

This Swallow-tailed Kite does a morning "Skimming" maneuver to get a cool drink of water

This Royal Tern chick and parent were featured in an article I wrote called "Under my Wings" and published by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

I had a close encounter of the Who Kind with a Barred Owl

I used a bird call to bring this Barred Owl close to investigate

Monday Mornings,,an artistic rendition attempt

Snowy Wings...a feathery delight

You looking at me Mr Fish...take that...!

2016 was the year of the Super Moon too, I saw most of them..

The Editor's favorite Pied-billed Grebes returned in late fall

I discovered a secret Hoodie Hangout for the Hooded Merganser

George, the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron's mating display made him a world famous bird

After a rough start 2016 turned out just Ducky wouldn't you say?

email: selsorhd@me.com

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Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.