Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making Hope Work

Into The Storm
Lover's Key State Park
February 27, 2010

"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work."
~Rita Mae Brown

I woke to grey-ish skies this morning signaling yet another Saturday round of storms. This winter has hit a litany of repetitious, monotonously frigid and blustery storm notes most weekends. The poor kayak barely knows the feel of water under her.

And so there I was, rolled in a soft throw on the couch, coffee in my hand, cat in my lap, trying to decide what to do with the day while watching a PBS documentary about SW Florida at the same time. It caught my eye because I've been reading Washington Post reporter, Michael Grunwald's book, The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise. It's an amazing book, exhaustive in detail, and a riveting story, even if you don't live here. I was introduced to it by a friend visiting from Northern California, who read it during his stay here, feeding me juicy tidbits during our dinner conversations. Over roasted shrimp in lemon pasta with arugula salad, I was hooked.

But I digress. In the PBS documentary this morning, one man likened living in this area to "a blind man in a smoke house." "Everywhere you turn," he said, "there's something meaty and juicy to dig into." Call me quirky, but that just made me smile. It's just so true! It reminded me that even in the cold, gray of today, I could sit on the couch and hope for some creative inspiration to find me, or I could get up and work on finding it myself.

One cool thing about a pre-rainstorm, glacial Saturday morning: save for a few rangers and miscellaneous park employees (including a tram driver motoring an empty tram on an endless loop from the parking lot to the beach), I was alone. I have often visited this little fishing pier that stretches into the back bay just off the beach, but never have I been there alone. Seems even the fishermen were still home in a warm bed.

The rain began a few minutes into the hike back to the parking lot, and was coming down pretty good by the time I touched the car. Thankful for the white plastic trash bag I always carry for my gear, I myself looked more than a bit drenched. No matter. As I've been saying since January, it may be precipitation, but at least I don't have to shovel it.

It was a great morning adventure. Everything I'd hoped for, did indeed, work out.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 12-24mm VR at 12 mm, 3sh GND, tripod, a nice hike and a free shower.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fine Feathers

Juvenile Night Heron
Estero Bay
January, 2010

"Is is not only fine feathers that make fine birds."

--Aesop, The Jay & The Peacock

Two of our area's night herons - the yellow-crowned night heron and the black-crowned night heron - are the easiest birds to identify in their adult plumage and the hardest birds to differentiate in their juvenile plumage. One prefers salt-water environments (the yellow-crowned night heron) and the other is partial to fresh-water areas (the black-crowned night heron).

If you've ever spotted a yellow-crowned night heron, you may have observed the absolute patience it exhibits when stalking food, which tend to be shrimp and small crustaceans. Oh that I could have such focus and perseverance! It's an amazing thing to see; almost like watching paint dry, but better. They walk a step, hold their stance perfectly still for an eon or two, then take another step forward. Photographing them can either drive you crazy or fill up your camera card with astounding speed because they hold such great poses.

And such was the way of this juvenile. Feeding alone along the oyster bar skirt of a mangrove key in the middle of Estero Bay, I drifted about 30 feet away from it for the better part of an hour. Step, stop, wait forever, step again; a bird mime in slow motion. If you can't catch one shot with these guys, you better think about photographing inanimate objects instead.

A little bit of trivia: these guys (as adults) sometimes feast on small turtles - whole! They have a special acid in their intestinal tract that dissolves shells - even big, thick, hard turtle shells!

And of course, the lingo: a group of night herons has many collective nouns, including a "battery", "hedge", "pose", "rookery", and "scattering" of herons"

I'll have many more bird photographs on sale this Saturday, February 13, 2010, at the Side Street Artists Art Show (click here for more info). Come by and say hi! Art is the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400 VR, a yellow kayak and a smidge of patience.