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.
From here I perceive
an image cognition weaves
Based on present impression
yet colored by my profession
You gaze in a dissimilar direction
observing with your own inflection
You see clear skies of blue
While I see a stormy hue
How can such diversity arise
from two sets of faultless eyes
Is visual truth subjective
depending on individual perspective
Have my life’s pages formed a sieve
retaining what I refuse to forgive
Perhaps it’s time for examination
of this aberrant manifestation
Leading to a paradigm alteration
producing acute visual revelation
Note: Pictured above is a pair of Osprey I observed at Flamingo, in the Florida Everglades. The male is on the left and the female on the right. This photo caught them looking in opposite directions and in considering this, a poem was born. Incidentally, an osprey’s vision is reported to be 3-5 times greater than that of humans. Their ability to spot fish in the water is what allows them to survive. Could it be that our way of looking at things is a key to our own “survival”? Just a thought…
Sea’s calm and the tide’s inches in
as sun beans glint on bay waters
Then, without announcement
the squadrons move in
One after another in perfect synchronization
each formation passes our reviewing stand,
low stealth winging across the shallows
in winter deployment
What signal brought in each skimmer conspiracy
What flight school honed these precision skills
where pilots snuggle up behind an unseen leader
as they circle through precision hairpin turns
Inform us Rynchops niger,
with your black masks and knife-like noses
Tell us of instinct and imitation
with a heritage deeper than time
Do you know of the Majesty of beginnings
or just of the seed that perpetuates
Fly on, island skimmer
while I revel in your being
Note: Some explanation is due. The photo is of a “conspiracy” (a group) of Black Skimmers. Their scientific name is Rynchops niger. The terminology “pilots snuggle” refers to fighter jets in close formation. My husband and I had an opportunity to watch the Air Force Thunderbirds a few months ago during an air show. Then, of recent, we were guests at a Black Skimmers air show of their own which preceded their regular feeding time when the tide just covers the flats, making skimmer fishing ripe. The similarity was obvious.
Snake Bight is a bay on Florida Bay near Flamingo in Everglades National Park. It’s a lovely place for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and bird watching, and a venue not to be missed if you enjoy those activities.