Oystercatcher’s Ode

American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)


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.




Limpkin Lunch

Limpkin -

Meet the limpkin. Not bothered by human eyes, this amazing bird lounges near the water’s edge.

Limpkin 2-

This limpkin has located an apple snail buried in the canal bank. Note her muddy beak.

Limpkin 3-

After repeated lunges her powerful beak finally penetrate a snail’s weakest place, its horny plate-like operculum.

Limpkin 4-

Laboriously she lifts the heavy load.This monster South American apple snail is an exotic.

Limpkin 5-

A little leverage and she’s in!

Ahh, luscious lunch!

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.

Buttonwood Blessing

Buttonwood Blessing

Buttonwood Blessing

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

Buttonwood Bones

Buttonwood Bones

Cowhorn Orchid-

Cowhorn Orchid

Cardinal Airplant

Cardinal Airplant

Feeding Frenzy

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:

Common Grackles

Common Grackles

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:

Female Cardinal

Female Cardinal

Ummm… Nothing like a little yummy millet to raise a girl’s  crest! Isn’t she a beaut?

Cardinal Male-

Male Cardinal

Papa’s arrived in all his vermillion splendor, but another colorful couple is on the way:

Female Painted Bunting

Female Painted Bunting

This beauty is wearing daffodil yellow and chartreuse body feathers with watercress green wings accented by a touch of lavender. Gorgeous!

Painted Bunting Male 2-

Male Painted Bunting

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:

Male Painted Bunting in all His Glory

Male Painted Bunting in all His Glory

Evening Stroll

Wildflower Wisdom

Wildflower Wisdom


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. 



Osprey Pair-

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 Skimmer

Black Skimmers at Snake Bight

Black Skimmers at Snake Bight


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.