Walking with egret

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Observe and learn from the Great Egret.

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On a windy day, avoid open areas at water’s edge and take a walk along the well-vegetated roads of Sewall’s Point.

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Again today, and for the past several days, we have winds sustained at 20 mph and gusting to 25 or 30. It really musses one’s hair and feathers.

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What a pretty feather-butt.

The pristinely white Great Egret gets even more dressed up for the breeding season. A patch of skin on its face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back. Called aigrettes, those plumes were the bane of egrets in the late nineteenth century, when such adornments were prized for ladies’ hats.

Much nicer to have a moment or two with the living bird. A few photos, to preserve and share, will be the feather in my cap.

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We walked next to each other for a minute or two, on River Road.

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Then the egret turned to walk into the woods on a vacant lot with waterfront along the St. Lucie River.

On this western side of Sewall’s Point is a ridge of high land, a “backbone” extending the length of the peninsula. The natural vegetation here is tropical hardwood hammock.

Tropical hardwood hammocks are closed canopy forests, dominated by a diverse assemblage of evergreen and semi-deciduous tree and shrub species, mostly of West Indian origin.

And…

Tropical hardwood hammocks are found nearly throughout the southern half of South Florida, with large concentrations in Dade County on the Miami Rock Ridge, in Dade and Monroe counties in the Florida Keys and along the northern shores of Florida Bay, and in the Pinecrest region of the Big Cypress Swamp. Analogous communities are also found in the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles (Robertson 1955). Most maritime hammocks on barrier islands in South Florida are similar to this community. Large areas of tropical hardwood hammocks are still found in Everglades NP and Biscayne NP in Dade County, throughout the Florida Keys in Monroe County, and in Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County. Tropical hardwood hammocks also persist in small preserves along the Atlantic coastal strip from Dade County north to Martin County.

Martin County, that’s us.

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Good-bye, bird. Thank you for walking with me.

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