Snake birds and sunshine

The sun was warmer today, mid-70s, gorgeous for autumn.  Passing the school pond, I paused to enjoy the many birds that gather there as the cooler days approach. Ibis strutted the lawns, snapping up bugs. Herons…white, blue and green, lined the banks, and stalked through the shallows and reeds. Loons swooped and dove.

What I stayed to watch were willowy, snaking necks and heads cruising through the water, body unseen until a small fish flashed in the late afternoon sun as it was flung upward and snatched in the long, spear-like beak.   Image result for anhinga images

Image result for anhinga images

photo by Phil Lanoue

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Larger ones were speared.

And after a successful fishing ‘dip’, the bearers of the snake-like necks for which they are named came ashore to perch, spread their wings, and dry off.

Image result for anhinga images

Image result for anhinga images

Anhinga.  Their name coming from the Brazilian Tupi language and meaning snake bird or devil bird.

Welcome to the pond you devilish beauties.

 

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Flights of fancy…

Owls. Today, for quite random reasons, but then again, I am frequently rather random and scattered in where my thoughts take flight…today I kept thinking of owls.

I am quite taken with owls…with the amazing raptor hidden within that soft plumage, the wisdom in their eyes, the way they turn their heads to look back as if it were the most natural thing in the world…which, of course, it IS…if you are an owl. Most of all, I am fascinated by the way they suddenly, silently appear. No wonder they have been  called ‘ghost birds’ and are often associated with spirits.

Great Horned Owl, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, by snooked.

In the ancient live oak at the old house there was a huge hollow in the trunk, a souvenir from Hurricane Hugo. A pair of Great Horned Owls took up residence in the hollow, and I never tired of watching and listening to them. In the daytime they were all but perfectly camouflaged within the foliage and the deep recess of their nest, at night I would spend long hours listening to their calls. At sunset the male would begin his territorial calls…the hoo hoo hoo hoo-hoo we all associate with these birds.  Later at night the call changed, higher pitched, and with a different pattern…sometimes not hooting at all so much as chirruping or screeching. A wondrous thing to fall asleep with the soft scented breeze from the sea drifting through the windows, and the low call of the owls singing the night to sleep.

In Ohio one of my favorites were the barn owls who took up residence in the stable. You don’t really see barn owls so much, as they really prefer the dark of night to do their hunting, but we surely could hear them.  Barn owls don’t mess around with hooting, they shriek, whine, screech, and make all manner of odd noises.

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Late one night leaving the stable a silent blur of white swooped just over my head, and my heart leapt like a rabbit on the run. Just the barn owl making a territorial ‘statement’ about my being on her turf during her watch.

If I choose to believe the wisdom of my Native American lineage, and I do believe they were, and often are, more in touch with the world than we…I think perhaps the owl would be my “spirit” animal.  There’s nowhere I’ve lived there weren’t owls. They are a constant and comfortable familiarity in my life.

I saw an owl in the tree here the night we moved in. Never thought much about it…till today. Some flights of fancy are taken on silent wings.

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Fall takes flight

There are, in case you haven’t noticed from previous posts, LOTS of birds in the Lowcountry.  Which birds changes a bit with the seasons, although there are plenty of year round residents.  The last couple of months have rewarded our watching with a familiar resident, but in a new location. Bald eagles have moved to the pond at the elementary school. October is the beginning of nesting season here, so we were delighted to find they have taken up residence where we can look for them every week.

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The pond is prime territory, open flight paths, but plenty of trees for roosting and nesting, and a gator free pond stocked with an abundance of fish.  By next month the eagles should be laying, and by early spring there will be nestlings to captivate the careful observer.

Snipe may be the stuff of stories and campfire pranks, but here they are among our oddball seasonal shore birds.  Wilson’s snipe are hard to spot, they are so well suited to the area, but fun to find strolling through a local ditch or in your yard.

Snipe-One

After another successful breeding season here in the Lowcountry,  our woodstork population continues to make a comeback from endangered to threatened.  They are ungainly to look at, but amazing in flight or roosting in groups in the trees.

Wood Storks

When you don’t happen to see wood storks feeding in

As fall cools into winter, we are thankful for the return of our seasonal birds. Another year of survival, another hope we can reduce climate change and protect these animals for our children and generations to come.

Welcome home.

Fabulous Friday

Another amazing day. It began early with a beautiful sunrise above the marsh, and melted into a lovely autumn day. At the school pond a flock of white ibis stalked along the water’s edge, periodically dipping their curved bills into the shallow grasses to feed.

Adult

We saw another group strolling along the side of the road at the county park this afternoon, enjoying the warm sunshine as much as we were.

Because it is Friday…and I am typing away at my current fantasy as part of NaNoWriMo with my writing group…I also spent some time staring at the ocean, exploring our local waterways, marshes and islands. So much to appreciate here. And such fertile ground for my wild imagination.

I was a bit surprised to find that harbor seals sometimes visit us even this far south! Didn’t really expect that, but they are such delightful creatures, I am thrilled with the remote possibility of seeing one down here someday; even though they frequent Long Island where some family lives, so I see them there.  A harbor seal pup in Duck. Harbor seals are one of several seal species turning up along the Outer Banks in recent years, according to Coastal Review Online.

Of course, my story veered away from the possible to other realms…sea lions in particular, since there are none on our North Atlantic coast.  Imagine the possibilities with such a gorgeous creature.  Image result for Australian bull sea lion

I do adore fantasies on Fridays…

Wandering into November

A new month and the end of this crazy year draws nearer.  The marsh grass has faded to brown, and cooler water temperatures add a deeper blue to our usually greenish water.

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At the pond at the elementary school, waiting to pick up the littles, I saw a great blue heron stalking along the shore before it lifted in a low, lazy flight to the trees on the far bank.

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Alligators laze in the sun, soaking up the last, lingering warmth of summer.

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New birds have come to call, enjoying our still gentle temperatures and sunshine. Kinglets chatter. Golden crowned flitter through the wax myrtles and ruby crowned scurry amongst palmetto fronds.

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The kids and I have an abundance of park days coming in these short but pleasant days of November. Welcome back. Let’s have fun.

Nothing remarkable

Nope…I can honestly say today was, by most standards, a rather unremarkable day.  The weather was neither gorgeous and warm, or stormy,  or unbearably cold.  Tepid. It was a tepid day.

Nothing exciting happened with the spawn (aka children) if we overlook (please do, I try to) the ride home from daughter’s job with her driving.  OMG!  But we survived; nothing really to be noted.

I went to the grocery store…actually three grocery stores, ha…because one is never enough with this brood 😀  It isn’t very remarkable; in point of fact, it is quite mundane, and yet I noticed, as I was scurrying about doing my unremarkable everyday things, there was always something to smile about.

A scarlet tanager brightened the bird feeder near the gate as I headed out to the store.

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I drove by the very first house my hubby and I ever owned….and smiled at how much it looks the same, memories of those early days of marriage, how much it still needs landscaping, lol.

The sky blushed as I was driving over the bridge to pick my daughter up.

  The colors fill the soul.

Maybe I just like smiling.  Ad reveling in every moment. The joy of living.  One moment at a time.

Nope. Nothing remarkable there.

FLOWER MOON

Change is coming.  I can feel it in the air.  Hear it in the breeze.

So close and real it is palpable. As if, if I knew the exact moment, I could reach out and grasp it…

     …like the moon…

The Full Flower Moon is upon us. Smiling from a star-filled sky.  It is a most appropriate name this time of year.  Even more so, it seems, this year.  The air is perfumed with magnolia and jasmine, wisteria, roses, and sweet tea olive.  

Things are changing.  Something new appears each day.  New butterflies join with newly opened blossoms. 

New migratory birds drop by to add their beauty and song to the spring chorus.

Much is the same as ever it has been. Frog songs. Spanish moss festooning the ancient live oaks.  The beauty of a new full moon shimmering over a peaceful sea.

Some things change.  This Flower Moon sings a new song and leaves me wondering what this change brings.