The still silent night is awakened as the predawn light creeps into the dark blue sky. Sunrise begins to break over the Broward. A cool refreshing wind blows over the marsh. A wispy layer of smoke like vapor swirls a few inches over the surface of the water. I wish this weather could remain forever. There are no meat eating gnats to contend with today (so far). I gratefully acknowledge The Creator of all things and sip my warm thermos of coffee. And wait for the stirring to begin. The first one I see is a Bald Eagle as it flies high over the river winging towards the sun (someday I may find the nest it just left I hope). The tide is just turning as the birds begin their morning foreys into the marsh in search of food for the day.
Checking and adjusting my camera settings for light conditions is now part of my morning routine. I see the sun-glint from a bank of mud and focus in there to adjust exposure. Then the mud begins to move! It is a huge manatee foraging on the marsh grass in the channel. It slips into the middle of the channel and heads directly towards me, only the nostrils break the surface of the water. It slowly swims by the dock I am standing on. It must be well over eight foot in length. The head remains submerged but its broad back is exposed and covered with tell tale scars of many encounters with boat propellers. Yet this gentle giant would hurt no one. It turns around and slowly swims back up the channel towards the main river. A flash of pink catches my eye as I spot “Rosie” the spoonbill flying towards me. The autofocus is slow and I only catch it winging by the blind before it lands on the other side of me and begins to feed in the shallow stream. It sweeps its spatulate bill back and forth in the mud and quickly rounds the bend and flies off again. It is becoming a regular visitor to the dock area and I hope to catch it landing or taking off at my feet one of these days. I catch it winging up and down the river several times but not close enough yet. AND IT IS RED HAWKS- 3, SNAKES- ZERO..got another one! One less slithering snake to worry about. And check out the Red-winged Blackbird escort on the hawk's wing! Those are brave little fellows. I have seen them “escort” eagles, hawks, large herons, and any other bird that passes too close for comfort. A pair of Mallards and Canada Geese check in enroute to somewhere. A Great Egret glides by and does a slow circle with “landing gear” down. The wings on this bird are broad and beautiful as it glides overhead. Takes your breath away sometimes watching them. As I observe more closely I have determined some routine patterns with the local Clapper Rail as it ventures across the channel each morning and evening. I have some more “time lapse” take off and landing shots to share. They don’t fly far or fast but quickly sneak into the cover of the marsh grass as soon as they get to the other side. Not as fast as the editor though when she hits the couch after coming home from work.
I can’t get the scars out of my mind on the back of that gentle manatee. Reminds of another scarred back. He didn’t deserve them either but took them for me. My wish for you is to have a wonderful week. When I process the photos from my trip I will hopefully be able to share some more great adventures. Be Blessed. Harry