Though we see dimly now...
Ever seen those commercials about children going to Disney World for the first time? I am just like those kids when it comes to bird workshops and am wide awake long before the morning of my departure. The predawn sky is bathed in golden light. Checking my camera settings I head for the dock. A shadow passes over my eyes. I glance overhead and there directly above me is one of the Bald Eagles of the Broward flying up the river. Instinctively I raise the camera, and press the doohickey as I lock on to the fleeting majestic bird. Into the sun, it is a bad shot but a good omen I hope.
I arrive the day prior to the workshop in New Smyrna Beach Florida (Thanks Adrian for use of the condo). The weather is perfect today but a frontal system is forecast to be here by early morning. In the early afternoon I check out the Cape Canaveral National Seashore for future kayak opportunities and get a few photos of Osprey circling overhead with their fish catch. One perches on a power pole and lets me approach before lifting off like a space shuttle with a majestic show of wings. Click. Later at the Viera Wetlands I watch a Bald Eagle swoop in on an Osprey that just caught a fish. An aerial ballet and battle begins. The Eagle doesn’t take long before it tries to steal the fish. The Osprey clutches his prize with tenacity but alas the bigger stronger bird prevails somewhat when the fish tears in two. They both fly off with less fish than anticipated though.
Still anxious with anticipation, the next day I am up hours before the sunrise that never came. A thick fog surrounds the Viera Wetlands where we meet. Sandhill Cranes and dozens of other marsh birds have gathered in the low waters of the retention reservoirs know as the “Click Ponds”. You can hear the cranes calling to one another. Trouble is you just can’t see them. We take what I call “mood shots” in the fog as it begins to burn off and watch the cranes lift off in the predawn mist. Great and Snowy Egrets, White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, various ducks, Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, White and Glossy Ibis and several species of Sanderlings and other shorebirds have gathered in the shallow ponds. There they feed on the bounty of fish and minnows trapped below the surface while avoiding a small alligator. We get some less than ideal light to photograph in due to the clouds but the variety and number of birds make the task a pleasant challenge. Later that morning the sun peaks through and we catch some bright yellow Meadowlarks singing along the fencepost and watch a Loggerhead Shrike hunt for insects. A beautiful and cooperative female Kestrel (a dove sized small falcon) poses briefly for some pictures. As we leave we spot a small flock of wild turkeys pondering the upcoming Thanksgiving demise of hundreds of thousands their relatives.
They say never invite a weatherman to your picnic. I felt a wee bit responsible for the less than perfect weather for the workshop. Even in rain and fog though there is beauty and life and we can observe that though dimly at times. And then comes the sunshine. Hope you been blessed. Harry