It's not easy being green....

“It's not that easy being green

Having to spend each day the color of the leaves

When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold

Or something much more colorful like that

 

 It's not easy being green

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things

And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're

Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water

Or stars in the sky

 

 But green's the color of Spring

And green can be cool and friendly-like

And green can be big like an ocean, or important

Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

 

When green is all there is to be

It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why

Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful

And I think it's what I want to be”

 

     Thank you Kermit the frog for those wonderful lyrics. These lyrics echo the concern also of life in the “LGH” community…Stop right there! I know what you may be thinking. I am speaking of the Little Green Heron community. On my last visit to the Viera Wetlands I wanted to get some photos of one of my favorite Herons, the Little Green. These shy and illusive herons are difficult to capture unless you know what to look for.  Seldom, do they stop by the dock to pay a visit. I know now though that if I make that 400 mile round trip to Viera to photograph them, the next day they will probably show up on the dock. And that was again the case.

     Per the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology “From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest. The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.” There are several on line YouTube videos demonstrating this unique fishing technique.

     Some folks tend to dwell on all our differences that make us each unique (like being green). It is not hard to turn that around and ask the question, “What is unique about mankind that makes him or her different from all other living species on the earth?” You might turn to John 3:16 for the answer. It is this love that allowed some of the victims relatives from the recent senseless killings in Charleston to say..."I forgive you". Be blessed. Harry

Nope, not talking about Little Green Frogs today...

It isn't easy being green..especially for a Little Green Heron..note the battle scars on the neck from a recent scrape with death..

These illusive but keen hunters can be found lurking in the marsh

Their long necks help them find prey even in the hardest places

Guess who was on the dock again after my last visit to Viera? Yep..Timiquan, the Little Green Heron..

Timiquan is still sporting his fancy Mohawk "doo" also...must have been to Janet's recently...

Jump for joy though..I am so glad I am green...I think it is what I want to be..

Bent out of shape...?

     An eerie moon rises over the Broward. Tropical Storm Bill has just drenched the already wet state of Texas. Some folks however, are enjoying their new “waterfront property” while others are cleaning up the mess left behind. Every once in a while something comes along, a storm, an email, flashing ”blue lights”, or other circumstance that just gets us all bent out of shape.

     It is the same on the Broward. It is getting hot. After sitting and sweating and seeing nary a bird all evening, disappointed, I began to retreat back down the dock when there it was. A young Tricolored Heron, standing in the shallow water as the tide flowed out, looking around and hunting for minnows. The sun was setting and the light was just right. I sat down and got as low as I comfortably could (and hoping I would be able to get back up). The heron began to look up, down, and all around trying to spot a minnow.  Apparently, after some initial success, there were no more to be found. In what appeared to be frustration, it began to call out and complain. It took a few steps and then got all fluffed up and “bent out of shape”. I began to laugh. This really got it mad. It squawked its disgust and flew off.

     This week of June is indeed the official beginning of the long hot summer on the Broward. On the Jewish calendar, this is Tammuz, hot, tense, and traditionally tragic. The fast of Tammuz (17th) commemorates the destruction of the Temple. If the current news headlines tell us anything, a long hot tragic summer has begun indeed. Don’t be like the heron though and get all “bent out of shape”. God is still in control. Be blessed. Harry

An eerie moon rises over the Broward as the long hot summer begins..

The young Tricolored Heron, the mighty minnow hunter begins his quest...

The prey is spotted, the neck is poised to strike..how low can you go? 

The strike is swift..

The reward..a nice fat minnow..

I want more...where are the minnows?

Getting a bit "twerked" off now...

Don't get all "Bent out of shape" like this heron when things don't go as planned..

No need to "fly off the handle" either..

God is still in control..(Birds eye view of a sunset on the Broward from a Remote controlled vehicle w/camera, aerial photo by my friend Jim Messer with permission)

See the birds of the air...?

     The summer sunshine is certainly warming things up on the marsh. I made a rare venture out to the dock this morning to find peace and solace. That was there in abundance but the birds of the air are nowhere to be found for the most part. This is not uncommon as they are either nesting or have finished and gone into seclusion while they molt in the hot summer season.

     I had volunteered to be a Bird Steward at Huguenot Park this summer. One might ask, what is a Bird Steward? Shore birds by the thousands are now nesting on eggs or feeding recent hatchlings. At Huguenot Park the Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and a few Black Skimmers use the park’s sand dunes to rear their future generations each year. This is one of the few remaining beaches where automobiles are still allowed on the beach. Automobiles (driven by rednecks) and baby birds on the same beach is a recipe for disaster for the birds. My job is to make the visitors aware of the nesting sites and to educate them on being careful not to disturb the young hatchlings as they venture out beyond the dunes down to the water while waiting on that next fish or shrimp meal. It also gives me some great photo opportunities while sitting there on the beach. I had planned to do this twice a week but some recent complications with my hip have now put a damper on my stewarding activities.

     Since there are not too many birds of the air I thought I would share a few photos of these shorebirds of the beach instead. It is fun to watch the terns and gulls flying back and forth from the dunes to the surf to get fresh minnows and shrimp for the hungry babies. In some areas it is hard to find an open spot of sand to land in as evidence by the royal tern nursery photo. There are hundreds if not thousands of hungry beaks to feed. Hopefully I will be back on my feet soon and watch these little ones mature and remain safe and sound. Until next time..Be blessed

Royal Tern Nursery at Huguenot Park ..the babies are hatching by the hundreds..

I'm hungry!

Royal tern heads to ocean to catch fresh minnows and shrimp..

Got fish? Many more are needed to feed the hungry beaks waiting in the dunes..

Laughing Gulls with a pair of laughing hungry chicks wait for a meal..

This Laughing Gull is itching to catch a fish..!

Hopefully the Black Skimmers will be nesting soon also..

Lonely Blue...this Great Blue Heron seem all alone on the beach..actually there are thousands of other shore birds surrounding him..but this is how I will feel until I am back on the beach..

The Clappfields and McRail’s saga continues…dark shadows

      The Clapper Rail, an illusive, seldom seen, but often-heard marsh bird, is one of the few birds on the marsh this time of year. This is in part due to the nesting season. Some of you may recall my past stories of the “Clappfields and the McRails” (for my old roomie, this is a pun on "The Hatfields and McCoys", and published under protest by the Editor). I thought I would bring you up to date on the family saga of the feuding Clapper Rails of the Broward. It is a tale of shadowy figures.

     To recap the past, “Clyde Clappfield” almost scared the feathers off of little “nervous Nellie” last fall. Nellie swore she would get even some day. Well she did. I will give you some dark secrets of how and why she did it. Clyde Clappfield was from “the good side” of the channel. You know, lots of land, green marshes, and scenic views. Poor nervous Nellie McRail lived on the “the other side” in a secluded marsh island in the middle of the Broward. It is muddy island surrounded by water with dangers of every kind; marauding raccoons, dangerous hawks, and snakes, to name just a few the trials the McRail clan face each day.

     What happened is Clyde Clappfield actually felt sorry for what he did to poor Nellie. In truth, he kinda liked her cute little feathers. And Nellie, well, she knew a good thing when she saw it too. While sitting on the dock one morning about a month ago, I saw them both walking together (ok, slogging), through the mud. Nellie looked up at me and began to "Rail". At first I thought she was scolding me for pointing the doohickey at her. In truth, she had a little secret she wanted to share. Out of the dark shadows of the marsh came five recently hatched little fuzzy black feather balls awkwardly walking through the mud to keep up with their parents. Since then I have been watching these little fuzz balls grow.

     It is said all things work together for the good. Our trails and tribulations seem daunting at times. I am going through another one as I write this story. But things worked out for the Clappfields and the McRails. They are no longer feuding and united in a happy family with five wonderful new babies that I hope, will grow up and face the challenges ahead with two loving parents. The way things outta be but not always are. Those dark shadows turned out to be blessings. So I know it will work out for me too. Be Blessed. Harry

Mr and Mrs Clyde Clapfield take a morning slog through the muddy Broward....

Nellie looks at me and begins to "Rail"...at first I think she is mad about the Doohickey pointing at her.

In the dark shadows I suddenly see five little black fuzz balls answering their Momma's call..

These little Clapper Rail Chicks are only days old I think..they have a tough time walking in the mud.

At two weeks the chicks have doubled in size but still have trouble keeping up with Mom..

Baby Clapper Rail at about two weeks old..

At about four to five weeks the down is beginning to be replaced by feathers and these "three mud-skateers" are having no problem running through the mud. 

The parents teach them how to hunt for morsels in the muck..this one is a bit camera shy I think..

Mine! 

Family portrait

Now I know why we have the big feet...

Just call me Mud Foot!

Wonder how long it will be till I can use these wingy things?

It's "Bathtime on the Broward."..Be Blessed

     

Spread your wings..

The refreshing breezes of May have given new life to the marsh. The grass is growing greener due to the abundant rains. This morning I saw the pink glow of morning reflect on the clouds. By the time I got my lenses changed it had faded all too quickly and was gone. Like the fading flash of pink, spring is almost gone and the hot humid air of summer is beginning to roll over the marsh like a wet smothering blanket. The marsh birds are nesting. Time for a road trip to the stick marsh.

I had to cancel a planned trip to the southwest coast of Florida this spring and missed out on one of my favorite workshops this year with my friend Jack. However, a last minute schedule change with visitors did allow me to take advantage of an opening to take a trip down south again to Blue Cypress Lake to see how the Osprey were doing and also visit the "stick marsh" . The T.M. Goodwin waterfowl management area near Fellsmere Florida, aka the "Stick Marsh" is home to prime bass fishing. For birders it provides a great opportunity to see nesting Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons and sometimes, the illusive Green Herons. I met Wildlife guide and photographer Ron Bielefeld and his client "Doc" Wingfield there for a day on the pontoon boat. The weather was perfect but as "fate" would have it the birds didn't quite cooperate for that planned "Kodak moment" I had envisioned. Still, I had a great time and captured some good photographs.

The "stick marsh" is aptly named for the nesting material or sticks that the birds gather when they fly to and from the small island outcrops of bushes heavily loaded with nesting birds of all kinds. We watched a Tricolored heron and a Cattle Egret fly back and forth across the canal for hours as fast as they could to gather nesting materials. Some sticks were large, some seemed small, but each had a planned location and purpose. Time, tide and formation wait for no man. Neither do the waiting eggs of a nesting marsh bird. We saw birds on eggs, newly hatched chicks, and some half grown and fledgling young.  Some were branching as they spread their wings and started to practice the magical art of flying. For the recently fledged young, It was comical to watch them try new maneuvers as they attempted to land, avoid obstacles or wires and show off their new skills. 

This June blog is dedicated to all you new fledglings out there. They may be your children or more likely grand or great grandchildren. They are spreading their wings and beginning to fly. You gathered the sticks, made the nest, fed them and nourished and protected them. It is their turn to fly now. Be mindful of the lurking gators. Now watch them go on a wing and a prayer. Be blessed. Harry

Morning begins to break on the Broward

Marsh birds by the hundreds have made their nest in the Stick Marsh. These Cattle Egret hatchlings are hours old and being protected by their Mom who keeps a wary eye on us.

Some fledglings like this Anhinga seem reluctant to leave the nest no matter what the parents say. Why leave free room and board..sound familiar?

Adult Roseate Spoonbill begins its descent to the nest with a gullet full of food for the young.

The Spoonbill spots an open branch for landing and spreads its wings..

This young  spoonbill comes in for a landing.

Angel like wings spread on landing..

A little to the left..

And a perfect Roseate touchdown!

This Tricolored Heron spent hours bringing in sticks for nesting material

Cattle Egret busy bringing sticks..

Beware of the Gators lurking below....

Got my ducks in a row....Black Bellied Whistling Ducks at Blue Cypress Lake..

Adult Osprey on right with two fledglings..note the deep orange colored eyes of the young Osprey.

Always room for another stick..

Bringing home the lunch catch..fresh catfish..

Spread your wings and fly...


email: selsorhd@me.com

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