Sojourns in the Parallel World
We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.
This is a Purple Gallinule, in bright morning sun.
Lurking in the marshes of the extreme southeastern U.S. lives one of the most vividly colored birds in all of North America. Purple Gallinules combine cherry red, sky blue, moss green, aquamarine, indigo, violet, and school-bus yellow, a color palette that blends surprisingly well with tropical and subtropical wetlands. Watch for these long-legged, long-toed birds stepping gingerly across water lilies and other floating vegetation as they hunt frogs and invertebrates or pick at tubers.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Purple_Gallinule/overview
We saw this bird and others at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Florida yesterday morning. It’s a piece of the northern Everglades that has been preserved for wildlife and lovers of wild places. The main entrance is in Boynton Beach.
It’s cool how a bird this colorful can also appear camouflaged.
Also notable: the amazing feet.
Related: the Common Gallinule.
The Common Gallinule swims like a duck and walks atop floating vegetation like a rail with its long and slender toes. This boldly marked rail has a brilliant red shield over the bill and a white racing stripe down its side. It squawks and whinnies from thick cover in marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile, peeking in and out of vegetation. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Gallinule/overview
This one was noisy, with its “squawks and whinnies.”
We also observed Florida’s most famous large reptile.
We stared at the alligator and he didn’t blink an eye, move, or even look back at us. “Whatever,” is the motto of the gator at rest.
The long wooden pier out into the Indian River Lagoon, behind the Snook Nook bait and tackle shop in Jensen Beach, is often worth a quick look.
Mainly gulls. One little Ruddy Turnstone.
One tern on a piling. Turns out to be a Forster’s Tern, bird number 222 for me.
Flashing slender, silvery wings and an elegantly forked tail, Forster’s Terns cruise above the shallow waters of marshes and coastlines looking for fish. These medium-sized white terns are often confused with the similar Common Tern, but Forster’s Terns have a longer tail and, in nonbreeding plumage, a distinctive black eye patch.
I was quite close to this three-and-a-half foot tall wading bird yesterday at the big freshwater pond at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach.
Portrait of one of the weirdest-looking birds in Florida.
The wood stork is a large, long-legged wading bird that is a member of the stork family (Ciconiidae). It is distantly related to herons, egrets, and ibises (Order: Ciconiiformes). However, recent genetic studies suggest storks are more closely related to the new world vultures (Family: Carthartidae).https://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/birds/wood-storks/introduction/
I can see that.
There were two of them, on a slow hunt around the pond edge.
Their long bills dip in deeper than other wading birds. And they can wade in deeper water thanks to those long legs.
A Tricolored Heron was keeping close to nab fish that were stirred up by the big stork feet.
Big pink feet.
I wonder if this is a pair. Nesting season should be happening soon.
The gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker is so boldly patterned it’s been called a “flying checkerboard,” with an entirely crimson head, a snow-white body, and half white, half inky black wings. These birds don’t act quite like most other woodpeckers: they’re adept at catching insects in the air, and they eat lots of acorns and beech nuts, often hiding away extra food in tree crevices for later. This magnificent species has declined severely in the past half-century because of habitat loss and changes to its food supply.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-headed_Woodpecker/overview
So many Red-bellied Woodpeckers everywhere and so few Red-headed Woodpeckers.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, in fenceposts, and under roof shingles. Grasshoppers are regularly stored alive, but wedged into crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-headed_Woodpecker/overview
A bird worth getting to know.
I found this bird by checking eBird to see where the species had been seen lately. I had the good luck to have gone birding with a local birder who had posted a recent checklist that included a Red-headed. I emailed him to ask for guidance and got a great description of what I might see along Fox Brown Road in the Allapattah Flats, including the general location of beautiful bird. What luck!
I was recently reviewing the Martin County, Florida eBird Illustrated Checklist to see what species I haven’t yet seen around here. Is this a new chapter for me?.. actually going out looking for a specific bird rather than just wandering around with my camera? Well, I’m sure I’ll still do plenty of wandering.
From brown to white, this immature White Ibis is patchy with new feathers.
Reminds me a bit of the diamond patchwork of a harlequin.
Adult and not-yet.
A watched a flock of White Ibis at Indian Riverside Park a couple of days ago. I focused on the young birds, with their more varied coloring.
Some were less patchy and more brown.
Side by side.
White Ibises probe for insects and crustaceans beneath the surface of wetlands. They insert their bill into soft muddy bottoms and feel for prey. When they feel something, they pinch it like a tweezer, pulling out crayfish, earthworms, marine worms, and crabs. They also stab or pinch fish, frogs, lizards, snails, and newts. Many of their prey are swallowed on the spot, but for really muddy items they carry them away to wash the mud off before eating.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/White_Ibis/lifehistory
These birds didn’t care I was crouched down right near them.
Nice to get such a good look at these common Florida birds in their less commonly observed plumage.