Great Expectations..

     In Dickens classic 1860 Novel Great Expectations we follow the orphan Pip as he leaves behind a childhood of misery and poverty after an anonymous benefactor offers him a chance at the life of a gentleman. Fast forward to today. I had similar Great Expectations that the new Canon 7D Mk II (follow on to my current 7D) would bring me a small step closer to the world of professional photography. My not so anonymous benefactor (the Editor) made it possible with her extra summer pay. The new camera arrived with much anticipation this past week.

      In March of last year I stood on the dock and watched a then unknown species of hawk flying low over the marsh looking to scare up red-winged blackbirds for a quick “carry out” lunch so to speak. Intent on its prey, this raptor did not notice me until it was nearly upon me. It finally glanced up and saw me and then did a classic “wing over” maneuver as I pressed the doohickey. It was and still is one of my favorite early captures. It took me a while to identify this hawk from the near similar species in the area. It turns out it was a Northern Harrier. The owl like face feathers distinguish this hawk from the Coopers or Red Shouldered hawk. It was in January of this year when I saw perhaps the same bird doing the same flight profile over the marsh. And like before it did not see me until the last moment and again did the wing over maneuver. Unfortunately my captured image was not as full winged as the one the year before.

      This past week I stood on the dock with great expectations that I would again see this bird of prey swoop over the marsh and capture it with the new camera. The next day as I was walking up the dock I saw the Harrier sweeping low over the marsh early in the morning. I ran to capture the moment but got only a fleeting tail feather shot in poor light as it headed up the Broward. Disappointed, I returned to the house to tell the Editor of my misfortune, grabbed a fresh refill on the coffee and headed back to the dock. I no sooner arrived with camera and coffee mug in tow, than I saw the Harrier heading back towards me. I dropped the coffee, flicked the on switch and pointed the lens at the fast approaching bird and pushed the doohickey as it flew by in what seemed only a split second of time. I heard the new camera shutter rapidly firing as I tried desperately to keep the bird in the viewfinder.

      I looked at the playback a moment later after the bird disappeared. My Great Expectation was no longer an illusion. There in the small screen I had indeed captured the moment. It lasted for only a second in time but to me it brought me much closer to my dream. I hope you enjoy my Great Expectations in this magnificent bird of prey now captured on three different occasions. Third times a charm they say. Be Blessed. Harry

My Bald Cyprus Tree (The General) is as close to fall foliage that I see in Northern Florida.

Got Wings?  I capture this Northern Harrier in March 2013 in a classic "Wing Over" maneuver. 

In January 2014 I captured a Northern Harrier in a similar maneuver early one morning in the Golden Hour. Perhaps the same bird?

After a fleeting tail shot fifteen minutes prior to this,  I capture a series of the fast approaching Northern Harrier in a split second of time.

The Harrier glances and sees me.

Once again it starts into a wing over maneuver...

Another classic wing over

I think it recognized me and decided it is just Mr Doohickey and continues on its hunt.

My Great Expectations with the new 7D Mk II camera were indeed realized…hmmm..now for that new lens..might need a more generous benefactor though :)

The Golden Hour..

     There is a small increment of the time early in the morning and late in the evening when the suns rays are low and at times cast creation in a breathtaking golden light. Photographers live for that moment to capture this fleeting spectrum of light, whether in fields of wheat or mountain outcrops or an expansive plain or walking the valleys of a City Street lined with tall buildings. For me it is the birds of course. Golden rays light up the wings and time stands still for just a magical moment. You push the doohickey and then look into your camera playback and just say WOW!

     I had some of those wow moments this past week. I love to sit on the dock at dawn and dusk, at morning and evening light as the suns rays creep over the marsh and the birds begin to take wing. Every now and then the sun, the birds, the right atmosphere, fate, and time line up just right. And Wow! I can’t find the words to describe the glow of light on an Egret’s wing filled with the golden light of morning or the fading yellow or red glow of a sunset. Blue grey feathers reflect a golden hue as wings fill with the special aura. Painters spend a lifetime trying to recreate that light on canvas. Those who master this special skill have works that are immortalized in time. They take away your breath and bring back a moment when you recall seeing such a picture and place even if only now in your fading memories. Digital photography has given us not-so-gifted artisans an instant way to capture that moment also.

     We hear a lot these days about investing in Gold. I don’t own a portfolio of golden coins or bars. Some may call me a fool for not doing so. Some experts say the economy is about to crash like never before and the only sure way to find security is to invest in this precious metal. I know however, that my security does not depend on precious metals but on precious moments and the eternal word.  You see, some day man will throw their gold and sliver in the streets and curse its maker. In the meantime I am going to invest in the golden hour and share this treasure with you. And it’s free. Be blessed. Harry

The Golden hour begins as the sun creeps over the horizon bathing the marsh in glowing light.

Annie the Anhinga is silhoutted as the sky begins to turn gold..

Old Man River, the Great Blue Heron tries to escape my lens in the early glow of dawn.

The clapper rail dashes for darkness to escape the morning light and appears to walk on water!

The Pied Billed Grebes have returned also and reflect the morning glow of sunrise.

The green gold marsh grass reflects on the water adding another splash of color to the morning light.

A Snowy Egret on an early morning flight illuminated in the golden light

As the sun climbs higher the faint glow can still be seen on the Tricolored Heron as it glides by.

The Golden morning glow slips away filling wings with bright white light.

Black Crowned Night Heron catches the golden glow of the setting sun with the half moon as a backdrop.

Golden and pink glow from setting sun illuminate the wings of a Great Egret heading for its nest.

The Black Crowned Night Heron's golden glow under the wings as it begins it night stalking on the river at dusk.

Annie the Anhinga ends the day as she began silhouetted by the setting sun.

Happy Hunting Annie…we bid you adieu 

The sun sets on the Broward in a blaze of gold and lavender hues.

I got the blues...

     I got the blues. We were hacked again! Don’t stay in Disney Hotels.  The Editor recently stayed at one in the Orlando area for a school function and the next week I get a call (while I was in Idaho) asking if I had been shopping in Orlando that morning. Seems someone stole her credit card information (not the card) and we were now buying the groceries for someone in Orlando.  She was at work in Jacksonville, I was out of state and someone was helping themselves to lots of groceries on us. So I got the blues in more ways than one..

     I also got nothing but blues on the dock. There are three local species of blue herons, the Great Blue, the Little Blue and the Tri-colored Heron. Old Man River, the Great Blue Heron and Patriarch of the Broward, has resumed fishing from his favorite fall fishing hole just around the bend in the channel. As soon as he spots me he makes sure he moves just out of sight. Out of sight out of mind he figures. The Tricolored Heron is the most faithful of the blue herons and flies up to greet me nearly every morning. He is my ever-present companion and feathered friend.  Recently the Little Blue Heron (I call it Little Boy Blue) is becoming a regular on the dock also. As the tide recedes I can see the muddy bottom in the remaining few inches of water. Staring up at me is a Blue Crab. So I got the “blues” everywhere now. As I walk back down the dock there to greet me is “you probably guessed it”, a couple of Bluebirds.  Probably waiting to poop on my shoulder! Go ahead, everyone else is lately.

    Have you got the blues lately too? It happens to all of us probably at one time. At times like this I just have to “Consider the birds” (especially the blue ones). They neither reap nor sow nor gather in to barns and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. And he promises if He takes care of them, He will surely take care of me. And my "blues" will just disappear, but hopefully not my birds. And then soon I will mount up with wings and just fly like an Eagle. Be blessed. Harry

I got the Blues! And so does this Little Blue Heron!

I am really feeling down in the mud so to speak. 

I'm feeling a little bit of the Blues too in my throat said the Tricolored Heron

Old Man River, the Great Blue Heron relocates as soon as he spots me..

I'm a Little Green Heron….so I don't have the blues...

Hey Mr Doohickey…you sure look like you got the blues!

You really should do something about those blues said the Black Crowned Night Heron..

My Tricolored Heron friend flies in...

It looks down on me as if to say, cheer up friend..we all get the blues sometimes. 

Even crabs get the blues…especially blue crabs like this one!

Don't even think about doing that on my shoulder Mr. Bluebird!

Do what I do and just shake it off! Then the blues go away..

Ya see there…they are just going to fly away.  Just consider the birds..blue birds that is...

Take a flying leap of faith...

The next thing you know the blues will be gone and you will FLY LIKE AN EAGLE!

If it looks like a duck...

     Can you believe it is November already? When I opened the back door to let the pups out this morning I was greeted by a blast of cold fresh air that nearly froze my fingers off (well ok, for Florida it was cold).  This edition of Beyond the Broward takes us to a "gender neutral" made lake and the home of some friends Mike and Rhoda. They shared with me that there is a pair of Bald Eagles they have been watching for years on the lake raising young eagles. I had hopes to capture some photos and perhaps locate the nest.

     In the early morning hours often before dawn, Rhoda can be found feeding a growing flock of ducks that visit their lakeside home.  Talk about a “bird lovers” paradise. “Boutin Lake” is home to eagles, ducks, herons, storks, otters, turtles, and migratory fowl of all shapes and sizes. Poor Mike keeps very busy supplying Rhoda with fresh bird seed for the ducks. Over the years Rhoda has grown quite fond of her ducks and they have a special attachment to her too. Wild birds have had a fear of mankind ever since the Great Flood but these ducks just think of Rhoda as a rather tall but generous “Grandmother” kindred Duck whom they can’t wait to see each day. She knows all 40+ of them by sight and by name, with Miss “Beaky” being one of her favorites.

     On the far end of the lake is an enormous cell phone tower. We humans are not the only ones who use this technology it seems. I saw the male Bald Eagle land on the tower and then connect to and use this cell phone tower to call its’ mate in for breakfast. Sure enough she answered the call and swooped in to join him. I saw a cormorant come up with a fish nearly as big as the bird and it took about 10 minutes just to swallow the prize. This herculean effort captured the attention of several other birds including an Osprey anxious to share the meal. The cormorant had a bit of trouble lifting off and flying with that huge fresh fish meal nearly doubling its take off weight.

     I will return to “Boutin Lake” later on to witness the duck population grow when the new ducklings hatch in the spring. They say if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it is probably certain that it is indeed a duck. Maybe she can’t fly (yet) but at least to her feathered friends Rhoda has been accepted as one of their own. Hope you enjoy this trip as much as I did. To Mike and Rhoda, thanks again for the hospitality, coffee, and wonderful time on Boutin Lake. Just like Arnold, “I’ll be back”.  Be blessed. Harry

Mallard ducks by the dozens fly into Boutin Lake each morning to visit Rhoda. 

This young male Mallard and it's siblings call Boutin Lake "home sweet home", they were hatched here and found a safe shelter with Mike and Rhoda.

Boutin Lake is home to this "handsome" Wood Stork and many marsh species of birds, that all like to visit Rhoda and get a free breakfast.

A Great Blue Heron glides in for a landing.

I just love the sound of that bird seed shaking in the cup..!

This Great Egret does a graceful fly by.

The ducks become at ease with me and begin to pose for the doohickey!

Hmm..Got fish? This tall Great Blue Heron surveys from the shore.

This cormorant captures a fish nearly too big to swallow, it took about 10 minutes to accomplish.

This Osprey was more than wiling to "help" the cormorant with the fish.

We humans are not the only ones using cell phones..This Bald Eagle landed, and called its mate from this Cell phone tower (toll free). 

email: selsorhd@me.com

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