Binoculars or a long lens (600mm) can give you a closer look at the delicate green heron, quietly perched on a branch at the water’s edge, enjoying the morning sun. A few yards away, we are quiet and careful not to disturb him.
If I hadn’t shot this image myself, I would guess it’s location is Hawaii. But that guess would be way off — across a continent. The stark remains of this tree were found eroding along the shore on Lover’s Key in southwest Florida. It’s on protected lands where development has not been permitted, and Nature continues to tell stories.
As the sunstar records this fleeting moment, I am reminded that soon it will be dark, and I’d better hike back.
The Shell Tree on Lover’s Key is a unique spot where countless passers by have hung a shell. I think they wish to be remembered by Nature at the same time they pay quiet homage to this tree, which lives on and continues to tell stories beyond its lifetime.
It will be interesting to visit this site again after Hurricane Irma to see what remains.
There are many reasons to love the Pileated Woodpecker. First, you notice its brilliant red crown feathers and the red, black and white plumage, which would be a striking way to dress yourself today. Second, you can observe its impressive ability to steady itself vertically way up high in an old tree or utility pole. Then, you may marvel at its ability to hunt for food or carve out a nest by tapping its beak into the wood like a hammer 10 to 20 times per second. How can its head withstand all that impact?
Lastly, you may like the woodpecker for these traits you would admire in a human: it is non-migratory, inhabiting the same territory for its lifetime. It chooses and is loyal to a single mate. It benefits many other bird and mammal species in its environment, as song birds, owls and even raccoons later inhabit the old tree holes that the woodpecker has carved out for its nests.
And here is a mixed blessing. That pileated woodpecker in your backyard may be giving you some free advice: that dead tree needs to come down.
On a quick trip from Florida to Pennsylvania in March, I miss the colors of the tropics. It will be another month before Spring brings blossoms out of the dormant plants still hunkered down for the short days and cold nights.
But the magic of photography can treat us to tropical colors and brilliant blooms at any time of year. This pink and purple bromeliad blossom caught my eye at the San Diego Botanical Garden last fall. Today it whispers to me of the promise of Spring.
After breakfast, at low tide and warmed by the sun, these white pelicans decided conditions were perfect for a morning nap. Until one male pelican arrived and cried out to all of them, “Wake Up!”
The J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island, Florida is a wonderful place to observe the White Pelicans, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills in the winter months.
These White Pelicans can fly and float anywhere they like, but they all seem pretty happy to crowd onto a tiny sandbar, wing to wing with one another. This image shows only a third of the line of white pelicans gathered at J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on a sunny Sunday morning.