From the botanical finds of yesterday, I would like to move on to the zoological beings, the avian kind to be precise.
Unlike plants and trees, which are immotile, shooting birds, with a camera that is, is a chancy undertaking. The subject is unpredictable, unless it is the captured variety, but at the expense of a sense of carefree splendor.
Birds are prone to taking flight at the slightest disturbance. But when the random encounter is frozen in time, the elation, the emotional uplift, and the wonderment are priceless, to borrow from a popular commercial for a major credit card.
Here they are, in no particular chronological order.
The first image is that of a white crane (at least that’s what I thought it is), perched on a iron-pipe railing next to a bait shop. I think this is near the Clearwater Beach, one of our favorite places for the release of life activity, until the risk of harmful algal bloom (aka red tide) forced us to look for bluer waters (a play on greener pasture). Hence, the Tampa Bypass Canal blogged here. It was early in the morning, and the birdie must be preserving energy for target shooting for sustenance. I guess this is one of its favorite haunts as it does not appear to be perturbed by the throng of fishing enthusiasts walking past. Or maybe it was eyeing, in an askance way, at the guy shaking up his net, waiting for the off-chance that some morsels of fish remains caught in the net would just suddenly be flung into the air. Fat chance.
The next image is at another bait shop, this time at the Madeira Beach, St. Pete. Another crane was strutting on the timber gangway next to a smaller bird, apparently on a food hunt, kind of out of its usual territory. The close proximity of the two birds, disparate in size, both going about the same business of keeping fed, without nary a sign of belligerence, is a poignant contrast to the dog-eat-dog world that we have found ourselves fenced in. Whatever happened to live and let live, prosper thy neighbor, and common heritage that are the cherished dreams of the down trodden? But I digress. On reflection, could it be the same crane as above? What is a typical size of the hunting ground for a preying bird? Does it practice a kind of orchard farming, i.e., confined to a particular habitat, or shifting cultivation aka slash and burn, seldom revisiting the same location twice? I wonder.
The shot is taken near a lotus-filled pond in the Largo Botanical Garden, which boasts of many varieties of plants and flowers. Seldom do I see a duck (or is it not?) spreading its span like an eagle. Perhaps it was unfolding its wings after a dip, or was it trying to impress a female gender as part of the mating routine? But it was alone from what I could gather of the surrounding. That the creature knowing a nature lover like me was itching for a nature shot of the day sounds too far-fetched. Anyway the timing was uncanny, and I’m glad that the duck was able to maintain its pose since that is definitely not the natural wing position when “grounded”.
The next threesome is a different kind of duck, more domesticated than wild. Effortlessly maneuvering with their paddling feet, they were looking for floating bread crumbs that my party has thrown from the road bridge (yes, this is the Tampa Bypass Canal trip again). I did not notice the near perfect reflection on the water surface until it was on my computer screen after uploading from the camera. This is a testimony to the water clarity of the canal flow, at least during that particular instant.
Then there is the foursome, two in front, the other two bringing up the rear, and moving in unison. I suspect this is not my creation, as sometimes my daughter over at Oregon emails some of her photo shoots our way too. She too is a photography enthusiast, having taken up a formal course in digital photography in college. Unlike me, everything is by trial and error; the advent of digital cameras partly to blame because snipping of unwanted or unsuccessful scenes is so easy.
The last image of the day is a gem, more so because the bird is a rarity. See for yourself. Unfortunately I did not have the patience to wait for it to unravel its magnificent wings. The setting is at the Largo Botanical Garden as before, but on a different trip. I believe this was at the end of an earth track that was still under some form of construction, hence the earth mounds. Obviously, the bird is wild, and has claimed the clearing for roosting, drawn in by the quiet save for the rubbing leaves ruffled by a gentle breeze. And we were also tenacious enough to savor all the exhibits, without bypassing a single path in our coverage. All conspired to yield a golden moment that translated into the most pleasant surprise of them all.