You may think I have landed in a risky position
out here on a limb with nothing but ambition
The majority might feel wobbly and insecure
and so call my feat a stunt for the immature
But before you judge please let me explain
why walking around up here is not so inane
Most seek for gratification in things material
while I find the beauty of a cerulean sky ethereal
My view from here gives me a new perspective
on venues to choose so I can be quite selective
Above all this place is perfect for contemplation
for in all creation’s beauty I find inspiration
But before you consider climbing toward the sky
remember that I am equipped with wings that fly
Note: These photos were taken at Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands in Palm Beach, Florida. Green Cay is a wonderful place to stroll on boardwalks through active wetlands and forested habitats. In addition to wading birds, mammals such as otter and bobcat can be found. My husband saw a good sized bobcat and tried to get my attention, but by the time I got there with my camera the bobcat had gone into seclusion. After reading my poem, he pointed out that a he has only seen a true cerulean sky in two places, the Great Bahama Banks and West Virginia. I won’t argue the point, but Florida skies must be a close second.
I may be a juvenile, but not for long!
They say I look handsome, like my Dad
Check out my dark blue crown
So what if a few feathers slip out of place
I possess a great name and a greater destiny
Soon I’ll soar on giant wings
My form alone will command respect
Have you heard the power of my SQUAWK?
I am a GREAT blue heron
Mom? Mom! Where’s Mom?
I found this juvenile Great Blue Heron at the Venice Area Audubon Rookery on Florida’s west coast. It sat, seemingly mesmerized, alone near the pond shoreline. About ten feet away, sat a mature Great Blue, presumably a parent on watch. Both birds allowed me to approach with my camera, the adult comfortable enough to take a nap. Amused by the young bird’s disheveled feathers, I captured this photo.
Pad intertidal mud flats
Ferret and find
Lead on bright red-orange bill
Prod and push
Spot bivalve siphons and crab holes
Drive and dig
Seize and sever adductor muscles
Shuck and swallow
Savor succulent meat
Realign and resume
Pace on through surf and sand
Persevere and procure
Note: I spotted this busy American Oystercatcher while visiting a tidal pool on Ft. Myers Beach in Southwest Florida. Seemingly curious, but undisturbed by my presence, the wading bird dutifully searched the sand for mussels, clams, and crabs. I was taken by the bird’s beautiful eyes and long bright reddish orange beak. Two websites worth visiting on the oystercatcher are a video on The Internet Bird Collection and Arkive.
Meet the limpkin. Not bothered by human eyes, this amazing bird lounges near the water’s edge.
This limpkin has located an apple snail buried in the canal bank. Note her muddy beak.
After repeated lunges her powerful beak finally penetrate a snail’s weakest place, its horny plate-like operculum.
Laboriously she lifts the heavy load.This monster South American apple snail is an exotic.
A little leverage and she’s in!
Ahh,a luscious escargot lunch!
We encountered two limpkins along the borrow canal in Shark Valley, within Everglades National Park. The second one had located a large snail in the mud along the canal’s banks. With amazing persistence, she unearthed the snail while hammering at its operculum to get it open. Finally, after working for most of an hour, she managed to lift the snail onto the grass where she pried it open. Her efforts fascinated a good sized group of onlookers of whom she seemed oblivious. We all silently cheered her on, happy that she ate the rewards of her labor and satisfied that she had removed one more exotic snail from the park.
Beyond mangrove’s arching barricade of roots lies a salt marsh wonderland
A sea of Batis undulates in waves of chartreuse where ghosts stand watch
Trees ravaged by hurricane’s cruelty now host epiphytes’ glory
Still deeper into nature’s treasures lies a forest where buttonwoods stand
Rugged denizens of limestone and meager humus rise with dignity
Supporters of life’s plethora, they cluster with arms extending
Their celebration sings under skies cerulean muted only by tiers of moss
Walk here with reverence for around you wonders abound
Petite blooms of soothing colors and fragrance sweet hide among the branches
Lichen’s limitless mosaics scatter life bearing spores upon the wind
Clusters of cardinal airplants sport fiery tongues of flame, tipped deep purple and yellow
Barred owls hoot love songs while delicate orange butterflies seek nectar sweet
Wilderness like this beckons the human soul to discover her secrets
Come and taste of me, she whispers
You’ll never be the same
My husband and I love watching birds. We have tried through the years to attract birds to our yard by providing ample perches, water, and of course seed. We were successful in attracting birds, but we also attracted hungry squirrels–lots of them. Finally we found a bird feeder that outsmarts the squirrels, the Brome Bird Care Squirrel Buster Plus. It refuses to dispense seed when any creature weighing more than 3 oz lands on its perch. This year, with our new bird feeder, we have enjoyed watching a variety of birds feast in our backyard. Don’t worry about the squirrels they get to clean up all the seed that falls on the ground. Meet a few of our new bird guests:
The grackles have been our most active visitors. You can hear these noisy birds coming. They land at the feeder and like pigs at a tough, they gorge on seed while scattering it everywhere. Perhaps they’re in cahoots with the squirrels. These two grackles learned that their combined weight stopped the flow of seed. As soon as one yielded to the other by taking wing, the seed was again available. When bossy the grackles visit, all other birds in the area wait in the ‘wings’ for their turn. Meet a frequent visitor at our feeder:
Ummm… Nothing like a little yummy millet to raise a girl’s crest! Isn’t she a beaut?
Papa’s arrived in all his vermillion splendor, but another colorful couple is on the way:
This beauty is wearing daffodil yellow and chartreuse body feathers with watercress green wings accented by a touch of lavender. Gorgeous!
Can you imagine our joy when her mate showed up? The bounty of his colors and the artistry of their arrangement is unparalleled in North America. These lovely birds and more show up in our back yard daily. We happily make trips to the store foradditional birdseed to supply this feeding frenzy. May it never stop!
Here’s one more photo of this luxuriously clothed bird:
An evening stroll brought me to this place
where along the path weeds flourished
A scattered motley assortment
hardly worthy of notice, I thought
Suddenly, gloaming’s last rays reached out
transforming the mundane
I stopped, drawn to Lantana’s lanterns,
glowing among cool fields of blue and emerald
Awed by beauty, I lowered to my knees,
welcomed by nature’s humblest of species
Wonder spoke in words ethereal
causing me to reconsider
Judgments of uselessness or worth
paraded the halls of my consciousness
How easily I toss one aside and accept another,
while refusing to perceive significance
The weeds rustled in the evening breeze
as Lantana nodded
I arose and resumed my walk,
a wiser pilgrim
Note: I found this little patch of beauty in a most unusual place, alongside Dump Marsh. Dump Marsh is just that, a place where the effluent of city water processing flows out over the land forming a wetland. As unbecoming as the surrounding area may be, it is a favorite haunt of birders and nature photographers.