Perilous Times…

     We live in Perilous Times. How often have you heard that phrase? I think each generation has heralded these headlines on more than one occasion. It has always been perilous for the birds though. In the ancient Garden of Eden the Eagle was just sitting there eating fruit and leaves next to the sparrow and the next thing you know they are thrown out into the weeds and thorns and it is sparrow fricassee for lunch. It has been a bird eat bird world out there ever since. Life goes on though, even through the perilous times.

     I paid a few visits to Huguenot Park this past week to see the nesting shorebirds. Thousands of birds nest there this time of year. The Laughing Gulls were the most numerous that I saw. The Black Skimmers and Royal Terns were also nesting. Each morning I saw tell tale signs though of the predator birds. Heads torn off, wings here and there, sure signs of a Great Horned Owl having a feast on the gulls. One particular pair of birds caught my eye, one that I have been hoping to catch through the lens. The American Oystercatcher is rarely seen on the Broward.  However, there was one nesting pair on the beach. The park rangers said they had laid three eggs, which had all hatched, but by the next day marauding gulls had eaten two of them. I saw the parents closely guarding the remaining offspring.

     Per the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology we find this: A large, boldly patterned bird, the American Oystercatcher is conspicuous along ocean shores and salt marshes. True to its name, it is specialized in feeding on bivalves (oysters, clams, and mussels) and uses its brightly colored bill to get at them”. I observed it also digging in the sand for insects to feed the hatchling. The baby oystercatcher was a cute little bird and had to duck and cover on more than one occasion as I observed gulls come too close only to be swiftly attacked by the parents. I sure hope the little bird survives the summer.

      On the way back home I also spotted a pair of Osprey who had built a nest on the drawbridge signal light and had just hatched little ones. Talk about perilous places. Those fledging Ospreys won’t survive a fall from the nest with that bridge traffic going underneath them. Sounds like we need a bird savior too! Oh, they have one. Won’t they be glad to one day just sing for joy. Me too! Be blessed. Harry

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Gen 1:20

Perilous times on the dunes, a predator causes the nesting gulls and other birds to take wing.

Laughing gulls guard their nests and also look for others upon which to prey.

One minute everything is all fine and loving!

Then the feathers begin to fly, Perilous times indeed.

 A Royal Tern has hungry mouths to feed.

Black Skimmer hurries back to the nest after a quick morning bath.

The American Oystercatcher feeds on bivalves in the shallows but must not stay long.

Two hatchlings have already been killed by marauding gulls..

This pair of Oystercatchers stay close now to this remaining little one.

This pair of Oystercatchers stay close now to this remaining little one.

Wait here junior..

No, I want to go this way instead..

Time to boogie!

Hey, where did everyone go? 

Fear not..big daddy is watching over you!

Fear not..big daddy is watching over you!

Perilous places too…the add in the bird news said great water view nest site..geesh..but a birds gotta do what a birds gotta do.

Perilous places too…the add in the bird news said great water view nest site..geesh..but a birds gotta do what a birds gotta do.

These Osprey are determined to stay in spite of the dangers..and cars below..

What's a fellow to do in these perilous times…got mouths to feed …someday we will just relax and sing when it is all over though..

Vanity Vanity..

     Hope you had a wonderful spring weekend…The Editor was reminiscing about her college days at a West Palm Beach Baptist college. She and some friends would go sit on a bench overlooking a little lake surrounded by condos. There was a beautiful swan in the lake that they loved to watch. One of the ladies in the condos told them the Swan’s name was Narcissus because it just seemed to know how beautiful it was and acted accordingly.

     I took a trip with a good friend to the Jacksonville zoo to see our local Wood Stork rookery. If you take a look at this huge long-legged wading fowl one thing is evident. It is not considered beautiful like its Swan friend on the lake. Some people would call it down right ugly in fact. The adult’s head is bald and wrinkled from the bacteria that migrate up the long pointy beak and attack the head feathers while it feeds in the low muddy riverbeds and streams. But even these gawky looking birds have the urge to procreate when spring is in the air. We saw several dozen mating pairs.  A few had recently hatched chicks while some were just arriving and starting to built nests. Some were waiting for that magic moment to emerge and bring forth a new generation. The hungry chicks were cute and covered with white down. Maybe they won’t grow up and be considered beauties like the elegant Swan but you should see them fly!

     We watched the clear blue sky in awe as these huge Storks with broad black tipped wings brought branches and twigs from nearby trees and patiently built their simple stick nests on a tree in the zoo. They glide thru the air as graceful as any Swan can do. When they come in to land, the feet hang down like landing gear on a plane. I was amazed at how delicately this large bird could glide up to the nest, slow its descent, fold its wings and touch down on the nest without disturbing a twig or making the branches sway. The Jacksonville zoo should be proud of its efforts to keep this remarkable bird breeding for future generations to see.

     We have all seen them, the beautiful people of the world. You know, the Hollywood starlets, actors, sports figures, and such. Like the swan, they seem to get all the attention. Some people hang on their every word. Not me though. I’ll put the elegance and wonder of my plain ole Wood Stork’s flying against those Hollywood looks any day. Beauty is only feather deep you know. Be blessed. Harry

Am I beautiful or what? Have you ever seen a bird as elegant or graceful as me? Go ahead and adore me..everyone else does.

The Wood Stork may not be pretty to some eyes to behold…but wait till you see it fly..

The Wood Stork glides on broad wings as graceful as any bird in the sky..This one is bringing a stick to the nest.

Get some with pretty green leaves she says… I come baby..

Coming into final

Coming into final

Flaps down, gear extended.

Hit the air breaks..

Nest in sight. Full Flaps..descending..

Adjusting for turbulence..

And touchdown…! Another fine flight by Wood Stork airlines..We deliver on time.

I taut  I taw a Puddy Tat!

 I did, I did, a puddy tat a creeping up on me. Ohhh what big eyes you have Puddy Tat!

Pretty Wood Duck female with six cute first Wood Duck ! Now to find the male...

These fuzzy little storks are beautiful to their parents.

I think my mom is beautiful too! 

Vanity Vanity, all is Vanity..Remember, you mustn't love me for my looks alone!

First Flight..

     Orville and Wilber Wright made their first manned flight in the fall of 1900 in Kitty Hawk North Carolina and it lasted 12 seconds. Orville and Wilbur the Carolina Wrens first flight was even shorter but just as exciting to see.  As I mentioned several weeks ago, a pair of Carolina Wrens took up residence in a flowerpot we had by the front door. Carolina Wrens are notorious for building nests in strange places like old shoes, door wreaths, and flowerpots. You name it.   The original couple laid five eggs, but they were then left abandoned for over a week. This made me think something happened to one or both of the parents. Then I started seeing another pair (I think) inspect the nest again. Within days the female was incubating eggs (probably new ones). Each day since then I sat at my desk and watched the coming and goings through my window.

     The eggs hatched last week sometime prior to last Monday.  I could see four bald baby wrens with their eyes closed when I peeked in with the flashlight.  Typically the young fledge (fly) in 12 to 16 days. That is some fast growing! However, I figured I had time to set up a remote camera on Monday while I worked on repainting my back porch steps this past weekend. I was wrong. On Sunday, Mothers Day, I yelled for the Editor to come quick. I saw one young wren hop out of the nest and take off. I grabbed the camera and tried to sneak around the house to capture the moment. Two fuzzy headed wrens (Orville and Wilbur) sat on the edge of the pot, wide eyed and watching as their sibling took flight. The parents began to call from the rooftop nearby and out they came. First a short flight hop to the ground, then zing, up to the screen on the window and finally they flew over the front porch wall into the nearby bushes. From there they were coaxed up onto a nearby fence and then up into the Crepe Myrtle tree to begin a new life beyond the nest.  I counted three fledglings; perhaps there was a fourth I missed.  The Carolina Wrens first flight was awesome to see but then again these wrens have had a lot more practice than the Wright Brothers. They have been doing this since creation. 

     The Editor and I wish all you Mom’s out there a Happy Mothers Day! And what can be more exciting to a Mom than to see her young ones grow up and leave the nest.  I didn’t capture the quality of photos I had hoped for but did catch the moment. It happened so fast. Imagine a baby going from crawling to running in a matter of seconds. Yet to some of you parents it probably did seem like only a short time. One day they are in diapers, the next day they are gone. But I think that is a good thing. Don’t you? Can’t imagine all six of them wrens poopin in that little pot much longer. Until next time…Be Blessed. 

On Saturday I peeked into the pot and just saw beaks and eyeballs.

With hungry mouths to feed this male Carolina Wren was busy all day Saturday bringing bugs to the nest.

The Female Carolina Wren checks me out before approaching the nest.

On Sunday, Mothers Day I saw the little wrens start to leave the nest.  These two I call Orville and Wilber are the last to go.

Weill I made it down here, where did everyone go? Who are you and what are you doing with that camera says Orville Wren?

I hear ya Mom! Be there in a second..Hey Wilbur, come on, this is easy, try it!

Hard to spot little Orville the Carolina wren in the redtop hedge. 

Dad was right, it is a jungle out here chirps Wilbur Wren!

The view is better up here on the fence says Orville..Hey Dad! Where ya at?..that guy is pointing the camera at me again. Where is Wilbur?

There ya are! Am I glad to see you..Let's fly some more, this is fun! Now where is Wilbur?

Hey! Wait for me says Wibur, gotta figure out how to get outta this man made tree thingy. 

The days of Noah..

     NEVER, I REPEAT, NEVER invite a weatherman to your picnic unless you plan for rain and lots of it. I just returned home Tuesday (in the nick of time) from the 40th annual Naval Weather Service reunion in Pensacola, Florida. The day after I left the rains and subsequent floods came in record-breaking amounts. I also safely traversed a tornado warning area on my journey home that day.  Folks in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi were not so fortunate. The reunion went on through the midst of the deluge, but some of the local hosts did indeed suffer some flood damage to homes and cars. As I write this blog the rain is still coming down. I am sure some of the residents in Pensacola felt the days of Noah were surely upon them.

     A few brief breaks in the clouds and rain occurred midweek. Hardly a bird was stirring on the Broward with the exception of a few Great Egrets. As I watched some of these graceful birds fishing at low tide in the evening, the Black Skimmers returned and put on a nice show. I posted a few photos on some poplar social media sites but also want to share a few of these remarkable moments with you. Several times I witnessed the skimmers “tooling along” when suddenly, their head dipped into the water, pulling up a minnow in their long thin beak. It was a great catch for both of us. On Thursday I took the Kayak out for a local trip, testing out the portage capabilities of my Ford Transit. Unfortunately, I saw no birds nearby on the river but do think that I can safely transport the Kayak Beyond the Broward in the future. If the rain and floods continue I might just use it to get around the house if need be.

     Are you ready for the coming floods and storms? Perhaps you feel very secure where you are right now. So did my friends in Pensacola, and so did those folks in tornado alley. Is your home built on rock or sand? I hope it is on the former, for then it will surely withstand the coming storm.  Be like the wise man and build your house upon a rock. And Be Blessed. Harry

 A Great Egret glides towards the setting sun.

A dragon fly makes its approach.

The dragon fly makes its landing. ( there were no birds to photograph ok?)

The Black Skimmers fly along hoping to snag a fish! 

Got one! I capture the moment as it captures a minnow. 

I know there is another one down here somewhere.

There it is! Dive Dive Dive!

Gotcha,,,nice catch !

Guess who is coming to dinner? This is where I decide to duck!

My Wavewalk Kayak is loaded for my first test drive Beyond the Broward. It travels well on the Transit. 

I am ready for the flood if it comes. I have a Kayak and my home is built on the rock.

That is pretty much the black and white of it! 


All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.