Posted on December 31, 2014
I love walking in the wetlands. After a busy work week, the wetlands soothes my soul, and puts balance back in my life. 10 days ago I had foot surgery and I have not been able to walk. Last week I started taking baby steps and today I was given clearance by the doctor to put my foot down properly and walk. I also got all the stitches out….ouch!!
Since he said I could walk I decided to attempt limping along to the first rookery at one of my favorite Wetlands – Wakodahatchee Wetlands. I meander. Really slowly. Watching and waiting. Wetland walking is a lesson in patience. You have only a fraction of time to get the shot you want – there is no do over. So patience is a good lesson to learn.
My first encounter was with a Tri-Colored Heron who was wading through the water fishing for it’s food. They generally flap around in the water darting from spot to spot, attempting to catch the small fish swimming in the water.
The Purple Gallinule is part of the “Swamp Hen” family. They are easily identified by their bright yellow legs. They are an amazing mixture of colors. You will often find them dangling on a reed attempting to eat the seeds or flowers at the end of it.
Moving along the broad walk I spot a female Boat Tailed Grackle. She hops up onto the wooden railing right in front of me. I am not necessarily a fan of the Boat Tailed Grackles. They tend to swarm the garden and take over. But she was kind of sweet and I enjoyed seeing her close up.
We are heading into on of my favorite times of the year. The Great Blue Herons are courting and nest building and today the Anhinga were showing their courting colors. They male is typically fluffed up and out. Both bird seem to get real defnition and color around their eyes at this time of the year. There is a lot of posturing done by the male and at times the female will engage with him and other times she will just ignore him. I had to laugh, I overheard a conversation that went something like this. The little boy, seeing the two bird knocking their beaks together, asked his father ” What are the birds doing?” The father answered “It’s like they are sword fighting”. Fortunately the male did not jump on the back of the female or I am sure the father would have told the child that they were wrestling.
Anhinga are interesting birds. They swim in the water to fish for their dinner. However, their wings are not oily so the bird tends to get water logged and has to dry it’s wings out on a branch. So often you will see the Anhinga, and the Cormorant sitting on a bank or on a branch with their wings spread out. The Anhinga in particular, is a stunning sight to see with it’s wings all spread out in black and white.
The Great Blue Herons are the other birds who are doing their courting and nest building. This is a spectacular sight to watch. You will see the female extend her neck out and make a strange barking kind of noise as she calls out for her mate. Next thing he will be flying in with a twig and there is a beautiful dance of wings and beaks as the female accepts the twig from the male. She will push it into the nest and wedge it in the exact position she wants it. The two will hang out together for a while preening each other and then off he goes looking for another twig. Before you know it the dance has begun again. Today this Great Blue Heron seemed to be snoozing.
Reflections are always a nice part of the wetlands and it was not long before I was back to the initial Tri Colored Heron that I had started out with.
Wetland walking is a great way to view up close, or not so close, the natural environment that you area has to offer you. It is a time to meander and enjoy the call of the wild. If you have never done a wetland walk, I would encourage you to take the time to head on out and enjoy what it has to offer you.
“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become part of the silence”
~ Robert Lynd
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