Another Morning Stroll

Last week I was in hardware,
this week I’m in shoes.
I got the working-at-the-Woolco,
Manager-Trainee blues.
– Buddy and the Boys
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Last week I had gnats in my teeth; this week I had muck between my toes. Well, I would have had, if I had been the one out there wading. Every trip to the great outdoors reminds me that although it’s always wonderful, it’s never perfect. As a tour guide once said to us, “We’ll get what we get. This is real life, not TV.”

Dunlins, small shore/water’s-edge birds, spend 90% of their time with their head in motion. Maybe 95%. They bob down to pick up presumably tasty bits from the certainly icky bottom and bob back up to do something. Breathe? Swallow? Choose their next target? Just keep moving to annoy me? Dunno.

I do know that I have many photos of these pesky small birds blurred by their motion or with their heads beak-deep in water. Huntington Beach State Park this week was not the exception that tested the rule.

All that is just to explain why I count this heavily cropped photo as a success. Look! They all have their heads out of the water! They almost have decent reflections! Sometimes “almost” is a win.

Last week I was vividly reminded that gators are good at being unobtrusive when they’re not being obtrusive, and that this change-of-state can happen suddenly. This week brought another reminder, at least of the first part. Oh, look, there’s a gator. Oh, look, there’s two.

On both my visits this year the pond has been full of gators sunning themselves and swimming casually about.

Along the grassy shore, I saw something moving that was neither grass nor gator. As he spread his wings to dry (hidden by the grasses), this male anhinga obligingly stopped from time to time to allow a photo of his head.

This little blue heron didn’t so much stop as just walk at a deliberate pace. Sadly, he mostly chose to walk in muck.

The wind ruffled feathers as well as the water’s surface, distorting the few reflections that the day was offering, but it didn’t seem to interfere with the fishing. When I consider the size of the catch and the size of the bird, I’m not surprised that they fish virtually non-stop.

I once overheard a photographer say that he didn’t need any more photos of large, white birds, and I resemble that remark. They are spectacular, even if over-represented in my collection.

Finally, I got a reminder that it really is springtime here, at least I think that’s what this behaviour is all about.





This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently, Nature Videos, Photos of Fauna and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Another Morning Stroll

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    A very rewarding morning stroll….
    A nice variety of birds, including the ever present white birds (nice snowy egret in there) and then throw in a few gators for good luck.
    What more could one want?

    (Yes, I know less bobbing heads, a even greater variety – but then this is real life)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – Gators for luck? Well, OK. 🙂 Lucky for sure to have safe close-up viewing: They can be fast, but likely not up a steep and rocky incline/berm. As for the birds – well, yes, I might wish for all you mention, but rewarding, indeed, either way.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    What a beautiful collection of photographs, Isabel.

  3. You have given me a new principle to ponder: that of visual contrast and the primal needs of the viewer, such as “do I need to keep my distance?” My theory runs thus. The delight we take in the white bird against whatever background is that there can be no greater contrast or ease of discovery. Even the anhinga is more greatly blessed by those white pin feathers that are visual locators. The blue heron is more endearing for its background of taupe mud. But those gators are better camouflaged in their habitat, seeming almost like rock formations on the move, which alone is a disturbing thought without the element of animation.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Immobile gators can be hard, indeed, to distinguish from their environment, whether land (where they look like logs) or pond (where they look like driftwood). As for delight, there may be some balance wanted between the ease of perception and the pleasure of discovery. I love the iguanas who rest on tree branches and blend very well – not least, perhaps, because they’re no danger to me even if I inadvertently get really close.

  4. Jim Taylor says:

    Your comments about the blue heron “wading in muck” remind me that “muck” is a subjective description. I recall walking barefoot along the shores of the Bay of Funny at low tide. Some of the shore was bare sand, red like the rocks it had come from. And other parts were red mud, deep and oozy. It would, I suspect, quality for anyone’s definition of “muck.” It coated my ankles. It squished up between my toes. And it felt wonderful.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – 🙂 Subjective is right. I’d take mud over rocks under bare feet, but I’m not fond of either.

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