Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wings on the Wacissa

What is joy?
It is a bird
That we all want to catch.
It is the same bird
That we all love to see flying

~Sri Chinmoy

This was one of those is it going to rain or not? days that had me uncertain of whether to head out with the boat. But by midmorning the gray clouds had moved on and so off I went to the Wacissa (someone recently asked me how that is pronounced--it's WAH-sissa).

It's still peculiarly bird-free; by this time last year there were snowy egrets lining the channel from the boat ramp to the main river. Nonetheless, a great day to be on the water. There was a light upstream breeze and the shorelines are that wonderful spring-green color.

I didn't see the alligator at Blue Spring, he may have been moved to a more suitable location. No sign of the black crowned night heron, either.

A bit farther downstream I spotted a snowy egret on a vegetation island ahead, so I paddled over in that direction. These are definitely in my top three favorite birds.

The wind nudged me back upstream and a little closer to the egret so he decided to leave.

And off he goes.

There are still several coots on the water. This pair watched me paddle by.

I saw a great blue heron swoop across the river and land near the water's edge, so I paddled over that way.

I parked in the surface growth and just sat there with the camera on him for quite some time, certain that he would eventually fly off. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a great egret fly to the other side of the river. I lowered the camera just long enough to watch where the egret was going (so I could go there next) and while I wasn't looking, the heron took off. Very sneaky!

So I went over to the egret.

I watched him for a while, determined not to get distracted, and eventually he did decide to go do his fishing somewhere else.

So long, egret.

Throughout the paddle I could hear pileated woodpeckers calling to each other and occasionally would see one fly across the river and go into the woods on the side. While drifting upstream (love those upstream breezes!), I heard the sound of a woodpecker at work on a tree. It took me quite a while to find the red-bellied woodpecker responsible; it was in a tree in a backwater area, making for a somewhat blurred photo.

The limpkins were making a lot of noise but I didn't pass any on my side of the river (and didn't cross the river to seek them out). I did pass this group of turtles enjoying the sunshine:

When I got back to the boat ramp there were quite a few cars in the lot and on the grass and there were several people in the water, which makes it difficult to get to the access point and to get the boat loaded--this was a preview of a typical summer afternoon. I couldn't easily get the car to the boat, but a woman from Orlando helped me get the boat to the car, which was greatly appreciated. I also met Ann, and we had a long talk about the suitability of air boats on this narrow, peaceful, (normally) bird-filled river.

I'd like to get out again this week and will post if I do. Stand by.


Dave said...

Thanks for the language lesson. I have always said Wa-CA-sia in my head. Potential embarassment averted if I ever make it up to the area.

Blurred woodpecker ? I wish my good pics were equal to your "blurred" ones

Steve said...

Hi, Peggy. Your posting is really making me want to get out on the water. The desire has been there for a while, but my schedule has been so tight lately, and the weather is hard to figure out. I'm determined to get out on the river soon, though.

My favorite photo in this set is the second of the Great Egret, where it's jumping into the air with the (in focus!) marsh grass behind it.

Mary said...

Stunning as always! Love the egret lifting graceful as it arises.

brucesc said...

You do the best on white birds of anyone I see! Is there some secret technique you use? Your stop action is also quite unbelievable. What a treat to visit your blog!

Peggy said...

Thanks Bruce! Actually the secret is in the exposure--it's got to be bumped WAY down in order not to "blow out" the highlights. Then everything else can be brought back to normal in Photoshop or a similar program.

To respond to an earlier comment about the "in focus!" reeds... That particular lens gives me the sharpest photo at f8, which also brings a somewhat shallow depth-of-field. And those silly birds won't sit still long enough for me to try several different aperture, shutter, and ISO settings! So I just worry about trying to get the subject in focus and let the background do what it will do...

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You're doing wonderfully well, Ms. Paddles. For which I thank you very much.

Joe said...

Such beautiful; shots!

FloridaBoy said...

I did not know that the common egret had green nares. Good pics!

Peggy said...

Hi Floridaboy,

The green nares indicate mating season here in Florida, along with the flowing plumage.

Thanks for visiting, glad you like the pix!