Happy feet...

     It is a Blood Moon over the Broward. In the morning a cool northwesterly breeze blows. The hot humid days of summer have given way to clear blue fall skies and changing colors. Florida fall colors pale in comparison to those bright orange, multi-hued red, and yellow autumn leaves I remember in Ohio. But heck, we have no snow! I will take it. Time for a kayak cruise on the Broward.

     The quest today is those pink-feathered Roseate “Spoonies”. Soon they will leave the area as the fall migrations begin. Two spoonbills have been flying by and feeding near the dock area recently. I launch the kayak as the tide rises and head for the secret hideout. Luck is with me as I spot one across the river on one of their usual “parking spots”.  Drifting the kayak towards the tree, the nervous “Spoonie” begins to “communicate” with me. It gives me a head nod and begins to walk up and down the branch as I close the distance. I pause and just sit there floating and the bird calms down. Time to leave the “parking garage” and head for the secret Broward Bird Hideout. As I paddle up the channel a Roseate Spoonbill flies overhead and towards the hideout too. My paddle dips through the grassy channel as I maneuver the Kayak towards the hideout. Two Spoonies greet me along with a yellow-footed Snowy Egret. It is so hard not to be happy when you have bright yellow feet. The Great Egrets are the first to take flight as usual. Those massive white-feathered wings lift the bird as if in slow motion.

     Heading back to the dock I look up to see a large Bald Eagle (probably female) flying high over the channel. This is the time of year the Eagles return to Florida for their winter breeding season. Now my feet are happy too as I paddle home. The eagles have returned! Be Blessed. Harry

A Blood Moon rises over the Broward..what will this sign mean I wonder? 

My friend Tommy is crabbing on the river..we stop and chat..

Several Roseate Spoonbills have been feeding near the dock recently..

I see you Mr Doohickey!

Spoonie lift off..

Is that you again Mr Doohickey?

The Spoonbill gets a little nervous as I approach on the Kayak..I back off and sit..

The spoonbill is happy now..

It is hard not to be happy when you have Yellow Feet! Hanging out at the Hideout with the Snowy Egret.

Tricolored heron hanging out too!

The Roseate Spoonbill flies in too while I am at the hideout..

The Great Egret watches my approach..

The Great Egret lifts off on broad beautiful white wings..

The eagles have returned to the Broward...now I too have happy feet!

Sunset on the Broward...got happy feet now?

Gone are the days of summer..

     It is almost official now, summer will end in two days and fall will begin. How I miss the falling leaves and colors of Ohio this time of year. The beach at Huguenot Park is now void of summer bathers. The hatchlings of the Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and others have fledged and gone for the most part. The Brown Pelicans are still around as are the Osprey and a few stray visitors. Come, enjoy this waning summers day walk on the beach with me.

     The green Sea-Oat grass, once covering the dunes, has turned golden brown and bends in the gentle warm wind. A lone Willet walks the shoreline, quickly darting here and there as the surf washes over the sand exposing tidbits and treasures. It spots me and cautiously weighs its options. Do I continue towards this Mr. Doohickey or make a run for it? It runs. There is only one Royal “Downy” still protected by a dwindling number of Royal Terns. The surf exposes a lonely star.  A Royal Tern wings by in the morning light. Maybe there is time for that last summer fling? Got to get another fish. Sandpipers and Sanderlings scurry along the waters edge. A lone Great Egret scans the inlet. The Brown Pelicans fly by in formation, then dive into the surf for a morning snack. The Osprey adults bring their hungry juveniles to the surf zone and teach them how to fish. They quickly get the hang of it, leaving a poor mullet to just “hang out” briefly until lunchtime.

     Adieu hot summer and welcome now the coming days of fall and cooler weather. For everything there is a season and a time. A time for every purpose under heaven and on the beach.  It’s time to cool off in Florida now. Blessings. Harry

The Sea Oats are golden brown and bending in the breeze..

A lone Willet walks the shoreline looking for treasure....it spots me and pauses...

Oh no Mr Doohickey..you won't capture me that easy...

One Royal Downy remains with its entourage of protectors...

The surf exposes a star...

A Great Egret scans the inlet ...change is coming..

Sanderlings patrol the surf..

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Ghost Crab keeps its eyes on me..

Pelicans silhouette the sun and surf..

Time to "Shake Off" the summer

I see a fish!

Look ma...I'm an Osprey..!

Juvenile Osprey get the hang of fishing...while the fish hangs around for lunch!

Surf fishing..Royal Tern style..

Wanna fish to celebrate the new fall? How bout for ole summertimes sake then? 

So long summer...see ya next year!

See Spot...See Spot run...See Spot flip out!

     See Spot. See Spot run. How many of you “youngsters” out there remember reading these words in the “Fun with Dick and Jane” series of reading books? These whole word reading books were widely used in the 1930s to 1970s for millions of young children. One of the main characters introduced was Spot the dog. I want to introduce you to another Spot, a little Green Sea Turtle.

     The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch Group is one of our local organizations formed in 1985 as part of a conservatory effort to help the Amelia Island Florida’s nesting sea turtles. Florida beaches are home to thousands of turtle nest that hatch each year. The primary sea turtles found here are the Loggerhead, the Green, and the Leatherback species. Volunteers trained in survey techniques monitor the local beaches for nesting activity, catalog, report, mark, and monitor nests along the Amelia Island beaches. When the eggs hatch, the volunteers wait a day or two and then excavate the site to count shells and rescue any stragglers and report the results back to the Florida Wildlife authorities. I had the exciting opportunity to observe one of these excavations one morning. 

     Our volunteers took turns digging deep into the nest to excavate a Green Sea Turtle Nest. These excavations are popular local events and some parents bring their children to observe the event. I watched as one little girl and boy giggled with excitement as a baby Green Turtle was pulled alive from the nest. OK, I was giddy too. They named the turtle “Spot”. As Spot was pulled out of the nest, he (or she) stared eastward into the morning sun. When the excavation was complete Spot was taken down to waters edge and released. Spot paused for a moment as the sound of the waves beckoned it onward. The location of this beach was then etched into its memory. Then in a flash, those little flippers started digging into the wet sand. In few short moments, Spot was swimming into the Atlantic Ocean. Home sweet home.  I saw Spot raise that little turtlehead and then disappear beneath the waves. God- Speed Spot. If “Spot” survives to adulthood (and is a mating female), the turtle will return to the same area as an adult and lay an average of 115 eggs, nesting about 3-5 times in a season.

     My thanks and praise goes to the hard work and dedication of all these volunteers. They watch and wait and report and work hard to ensure each egg has a chance to hatch and make it to the sea. Wish I could say the same for all the human eggs in the world. Maybe we need a similar type of volunteer organization for humans too. Be blessed. Harry

Pelicans greet the sun as another turtle excavation begins withe the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch organization.

An unhatched egg is pulled from the nest. It will be reburied and hopefully hatch soon.

Empty Sibling shells from the recent successful Green Sea Turtle nest hatch at Amelia Island

One lone little turtle named Spot is pulled from the nest. Spot sees the sun for the first time.

I wanna see Spot...I don't know who was more excited...me or this young observer..!

Spot pauses for a second to etch this beach location into its memory. 

See Spot..See Spot Flip out as it heads for the surf...God-Speed Spot..

Cool Clear Water...

     Any cowboys out there? Surely you recall the lyrics of “Cool Water” sung by Marty Robbins then. Do these hot summer days make you think like Old Dan and long for a drink of "Cool clear water"? The Jacksonville Zoo is only a few miles south of my home. Just recently they started a photographers group, which I joined. Was it ever hot though the day we met! It made me thirst for cool clear water.

     Our photo tour took us to the lair of the Jaguar to photograph Khan, a young male. Khan is an energetic youngster for sure. He is quite the swimmer too. We watched as he lurked around the lair, hunting for food laid out for him and then he headed for the pool. It was full of fish and a few toys. Khan wasted no time jumping in the cool clear water to enjoy a swim, bite the toys, and then sample a few fish swimming in pool too. At one point he sat up and gave me a few great shots of him enjoying that cool clear water.

     The Zoo also has a rookery for the Wood Storks. I have seen some flying on the Broward and headed for the area where they make their roost each year. Enroute to where the storks usually are I passed by the Lions den also. It too had a pool of water the lions could drink from. It must have had something bitter in it though because when the male lion drank from it, he immediately got an awful scowl on his face and really expressed himself. Must not have been as nice and cool as the water in Khan’s pool. One lone Wood Stork was all I found. In their place were Black Vultures pointing the way to who knows where. Certainly no cool clear water to be found down the path they recommend.

Sometimes the paths we take in life lead to bitter waters. Be wary of who is pointing the way. Be like Khan and enjoy a pool of clear cool water...the everlasting kind. Be Blessed. Harry

Meet Khan, the young male jaguar, a recent addition to the Jacksonville zoo

Like most youngsters, Khan likes to play with toys..one bite though and this ball was gone..

I think I see something yummy!

I see a fish!

Time for a relaxing dip..

And the taste of Cool Clear Water...

My water is bitter...Yech!

"Where is the cool clear water?" roared the lion. 

The Rhino eats some cool green grass instead..

The path to the cool clear water is that way said the black vulture..trust me...

I found one lone Wood Stork...he looks like he could use a drink of Cool Clear Water..

"Look into my eyes...be very careful what path you take"  says Khan. Look for the Living Cool Clear water instead.

The end..

email: selsorhd@me.com

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