my quest

I used to think birders were a bit odd. Easily spotted at any state or national park in their khaki Columbia sportswear with clunky sandals or hiking shoes, they always had a pair of binoculars hanging around their necks. One hand held their current list of bird sightings and the other gripped the Sibley Guide to  Birds. Behavior wise, they congregated in gaggles, briskly walking about while staring at bushes and trees until they spotted some bird whose name they quickly added to “the list.” I secretly resolved never to look like or act like those people.

Then, I developed my love of nature and in particular, bird photography. If birders are odd, then I am downright bizarre. I sometimes dress in a drab olive T-shirt and an old pair of men’s camo fatigues from Goodwill. On my feet are brown high-top  hiking shoes. Slung over one shoulder is either a camera or collapsed tripod. If I’m walking any distance from my car, I carry a backpack containing additional lenses. I scan every conceivable nook and cranny for a bird to photograph. If the bird is on the ground, then down I go flat on my stomach with my camera glued to my right eyeball. I have flopped unto some disgusting stuff; seaweed (properly known as wrack), slimy algae, and poop. That’s why I wear the old fatigues–the gunk doesn’t show. Get too close, however, and your nose may pick up my latest fragrance–say Vulture Guano or Vintage Fish-bait. Not only that, I have developed an affinity for birders.

My latest venture, on which I dragged two innocent family members, was the noble Quest for a Photo of a Reddish Egret. This worthy pursuit to a beautiful beach on the northern end of Estero Island along Florida’s Gulf Coast took us three hours. After accomplishing the perfunctory settling in (motel, lunch; souvenir shop Frisbee search) we headed for the beach. My family ran for the water. I scooted off down the beach on my quest. Along the way I was laughed at by a Brown Pelican,

There Goes Another One . . .

There Goes Another One . . .

and rudely ignored by a passing Snowy Egret.

What's with the Reddish kick? White is beautiful!

What's with the Reddish kick? White is beautiful!

By this time, my family ceased surf frolicking to find out what I was up to. They found me face down on the algae laced sand snapping furiously away at the bird of my desire, a Reddish Egret.



“This is the bird I came here to find!” I proudly proclaimed to my wondering family. “Oh,” they said. The proverbial cat was out of the bag. I’d “forgotten” to tell them why I wanted to visit this particular island. I confessed. “Someone I know from my camera club shot an image of a Reddish Egret here.” They were slightly less than thrilled, but hung along with me anyway. Soon we found out why the egret preferred this corner of the island–people fished here. They cast nets, and surf fished. In both cases these generous fishermen shared bits of catch or bait with the egret.

Free and Easy Food

Free and Easy Food

After downing this delectable morsel, the Reddish Egret did the only reasonable thing–he went in search of MORE.

On to the Next Human

Me Want MORE Food

As for me, I felt totally satisfied. My quest over, I resolved to spend the rest of my vacation enjoying my family. Well, at least most of it.

You've Gotta be Kidding Me

"You know what I think? She'll be back." "You got that right!"

10 thoughts on “my quest

  1. What a marvelous series, Karen. Congratulations on “bagging” your first Reddish Egret. Also, that last image of the Pelican and the ? is absolutely priceless! Have w wonderful Easter.

  2. Wonderful photos and story. Yeah, I know all about the family looking at one oddly. But, hey, the photos we capture are worth it, right?

    That last one of the reddish egret is funny. Looks like he’s having a bad feather day and the last one of the pelican and the gull is fabulous! Talk about stock photo material, that is it.

  3. Thank you all for reading and commenting on this addition to Morningjoy.

    Suzanne, the bird with the Pelican in the last photo is a Laughing Gull. I had someone tell me that after I left the scene, that bird actually sat on top of the Pelican’s head. That would have been some photo!

    Dawn, I’ve always been a bit crazy. I think life should be fun no matter what you’re doing.

    Susan, I’m glad you are enjoying that wild-looking egret on your computer. He (or she)cracks me up!

    Scott, you continue to be such an inspiration in my photographic pursuits. As for my family, they love me and are willing to endure a lot, bless them.

  4. I am so glad you dress up and hide in the marshes to get this beautiful photos — I am thankful you are such an avid birder — you are a blessing to those who get to view your work —

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