Dawn's Early Light
A golden glow spreads over the Broward as the sun begins to rise. It is a cloudless sky. As I walk down to the dock I see a familiar looking bird that I have not seen all winter. It is “George”, a Yellow Crowned Night Heron. I must have startled him as he flies off to the old pier upstream. In the past week I have now seen both the Yellow and Black Crowned Night Herons return to the area. I hope I can catch a close up of them later.
I scan the marsh and adjust my camera to shoot a morning panorama. As I finish I see an Eagle swoop down across the river and dive into the water. I step over to the edge of the floating dock to get a better look over the marsh grass. I see the eagle rise and start flying directly towards me carrying a fish in its grasp. Breakfast a la Broward. My camera is not set for a fast shutter speed but there is no time to adjust. I just aim and start pressing the doohickey. I can’t believe the eagle is flying directly towards me. The wings grow larger and larger with each moment as I peer through the lens finder following its flight. It soars right overhead and passes with 20 feet of my position. The golden light illuminates the massive wings as it flies by. It was just a matter of seconds but seemed like eternity peering through the lens. I have over a dozen frames to review when it is over. The wing tips blur at slow shutter speeds. I manage to catch the eagle on one frame with just a slight wing tip blur on the far wing. Yes! I note that there is a broken feather on the left wing primary. It is the same eagle I saw in January on Goose Pond. The juvenile offspring also wings over the Broward on the opposite bank. What a way to start the morning! The incoming tide begins to fill the channel. Soon a few Brown Pelicans start circling the island in search of breakfast. They approach me from the sun and dive and splash behind me but always in a position that has me looking into the sun. I wait for them to go overhead on their way around and hope they spot a fish in front of me and I can catch them in a dive in good light. Alas, today is just not the day though. One of them circles around and come towards me and nearly passes within five feet of my blind. Its eyes stare directly into mine as it passes by filling my lens with its wing. I think they have figured me out by now. I might as well just sit in a chair and enjoy the sunshine. Elated over the eagle fly by I hurry in to share it with the Editor before she is off to work.
“Oh Say can you see by the dawn’s early light”. These epic words penned by Francis Scott Key come to mind each time my mind plays back the eagle encounter in that early dawns light. The American Flag and the Eagle are the symbols of our nation. I am proud of both of them still. Long may it wave and forever may they both fly. Be Blessed. And may God continue to Bless America. Harry