Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Birds Are Back In Town!

I decided the best thing I can do for this cold (which is waning, thanks) is to take it out into the fresh air, so it was time to go back to the Wacissa. And what a joy to see the birds back! Now that’s more like it!

The snowy egrets line the channel leading from the boat ramp. This was an extremely windy day (and in the wrong direction—downstream), which works out well for seeing their breeding plumage.

I drifted downstream for perhaps two miles. As usual on paddling trips, most of the bird photos were taken in the second half. Before I turned around, though, I did come to these turtles.

As I’ve mentioned before, seeing one or more turtles on this rock next to this tree is so typical that they can be used in directions (“look to your right after you pass the turtle under the tree in the middle of the river”). That is, unless Abby has frightened it/them off the log. (Ok, I confess, I include that photo mostly to be able to tease Abby about that.)

This egret had really great plumage at its tail, so I was working my way around to where I could get it in the photo.

Until it decided it didn’t like me there and flew away…

I noticed that several normally-complacent birds were skittish today. Perhaps they have been hanging out where there are no paddlers and so they have to get used to us all over again now that they are back.

This female wood duck had two males following her. What’s going on here?

So then I came to this eagle in a tree—the same tree as in previous eagle photos.

What you can’t really tell from this picture is that this eagle is actually laughing its tail off at this woman in a kayak who has gotten herself mired in the seaweed while pointing the camera upward to get the photo. I finally extricated myself and paddled closer to try for a new perspective.

At which time the eagle looked down at me, seeming to be saying What is she doing NOW?

I got back to the boat ramp relatively early since I hadn’t gone far downstream, and so I decided to explore the area of river north of the boat ramp. It was quiet in there. I spotted this male woody perched on a fallen tree in amongst some branches (well hidden!).

I managed to get a little closer before he, as well as a female I hadn’t noticed, flew away.

I feel a little guilty when birds that are just sitting enjoying themselves or resting become frightened by my presence, but I doubt it happens all that often on this river (most people go right by them). I may have been the only person who stopped anywhere near them all day.

This great blue heron was standing regally along the shoreline.

Nearby, a limpkin was having some luck with snails.

And speaking of limpkins, I’m trying something new here this time! I decided a while ago that I would like to start making some recordings of various environment sounds that I encounter (this river, the frogs and crickets around our pond in summer, Gulf waves hitting the beach, etc.), which I can ultimately transfer to a CD to listen to when I am not in those environments (but wish I were). So I bought a digital recorder. I took it with me today. This was a really poor day to be trying this because of the strong and almost constant wind. I have a foam thingie to cover the microphones, which helped a lot but wind still got through, and it seemed to muffle the sound a bit. So this was less than an ideal trial—but I did end up with some usable sound files. A limpkin on the river was making a great deal of noise, and so I turned the recorder on. The limpkin was making its way upstream and if I stopped paddling, the wind and current would take me downstream, and so I secured the recorder in the bungees on my deck bag and paddled to keep up with the limpkin. I got quite a long recording of it, complete with paddling sounds. I copied a small section to attempt to post here. I have no idea if you will be able to play this, and if you can, if you can hear it. I amplified it many times to compensate for my distance from the bird and the foam that was cutting back on the wind sound. If you see a little box below with a file name in it, if you click on the file name (single click or double click—seems to vary by browser), supposedly it will play. It’s short, maybe 4-5 seconds. If this works, I can periodically add sounds to my posts. So let’s try this:

Did it work? (If it doesn’t, this whole section will shortly magically disappear, and I’ll try again another time…)

As I got back to the boat ramp, there was a snowy egret fishing in front of some greenery and it would have been a very pretty picture. Except that it started to fly away just as the shutter clicked. I’m posting it anyway.

I want to get back soon (possibly even tomorrow) when there is no wind to have to contend with as far as recording, just to see how it works. And of course to get back to the birds. Stand by.


clairesgarden said...

loved the sound clip! fab photos!!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Another sensational post, Paddles. The sound bit was also quite good -- reminded me a yapping poodle. Only better.

All of your pix are some punkins.

sue said...

Fabulous sound clip! Thx for sharing! :-)

Anna said...

That sound clip is cool. Thanks again for the tips on posting photos. I'll keep experimenting!