Mystery Shore Bird

florida shorebird

I went for my usual morning beach walk on Saturday (June 25, 2022), and spied from a distance what to me seemed to be an unusual shore bird at the edge of the Atlantic ocean.

It watched me coming out of the corner of its eye, and calmly walked up the seaweed-littered berm that lead to the beach proper.

Meanwhile, a joyriding helicopter suddenly popped out of nowhere and circled overhead — blithely ignoring that this is a protected nature preserve area.

I was able to get close enough to take a better picture of this mystery bird, even though I still have not mastered how to take zoon pictures of birds (with the Galaxy 8 that I was using) that show any kind of feather detail.

The bird — a type of heron, maybe? — finally had enough of me being that near, and flew away.

Here’s the first sequence of snaps that I took of it.

It returned moments later.  I saw why soon enough. It had located prey.

Entranced, I watched as it methodically extracted a Ghost Crab from its burrow, sauntered over to the swash zone, where gentle waves were lapping the beach face.

Finally this mysterious grey-bodied bird swallowed the helpless crab in a few gulps, it’s small head tilted back, and its long beak in the air.

Here’s the sequence.

I don’t recall ever having seen this type of shorebird before.

I walked further down the shore for about an hour, almost to the island beach cams, before taking a dip in a shallow trough by the shoreline to cool off.

I have on occasion seen small reef shark chase fish into these troughs, but have yet to see any sign of them this summer — indeed I have not even seen a single school of small fish, which used to be abundant in these waters, and not one dolphin in the distance in all the days I have come here for the last few weeks.

What I’ve consistently liked about this isolated stretch of sand and scrub is that it is fairly wild and deserted here.  Not many tourists, or even locals, have the stamina, strength or desire to walk for mile on an empty shoreline that is the last vestige of what Florida’s east coast used to look like.

Their loss; my gain.

On the walk back, I came across a willet looking for its breakfast.

Later, upon returning home, I tried to identify the mystery bird, but could not find an exact match.

Maybe a reader who happens to come across this post can help me out in that regard.*


*After some research on the All About Birds web site, I decided that this bird was most likely the commonly-seen

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Part of the problem with the hand-me-down Galaxy S8 camera I’m  currently using is its zoom feature that results in blurry pics.

You simply do not see any detail, which is a challenge, given that a shorebird is unlikely to let you get close enough to it to take a great picture using a smartphone. I am going to compare, however, the quality one gets with an iPhone 12, though this article does not seem to be encouraging, even with an iPhone Pro 13.

If I decide to get serious about this, I need to educate myself on taking great pics of wildlife, and a real camera — if I am ever to get better pics of my Florida shorebirds, especially close-up pics of my beloved osprey in full dive bomb flight.  But am I willing to spend the money on this bulky gear?

Also there might be better resolution if WP detects a retinal display. At least that is what WP claims.  I will test this out on my wife’s iPro.

Lastly, I may need a better site than WordPress for displaying my pics.  WP might silently be doing too much, er, “automatic” (WordPress’s parent company is called Automattic) compression under the hood to display the kind of feather detail I am after in these pics.

For example, here is how the pic of the heron flying away the second time appears on a trial site I just created on Smugmug.

Is it my imagination, or is the Smugmug version (even in full-screen mode) NOT noticeably sharper than WP?


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Today the Civil War Began

Today was a day of two settings.

The extreme right made their long anticipated move, and declared war against liberal as well as middle-of-the-road Americans.

As of today, the US Supreme Court is now illegitimate in the eyes of many.

We shall see if they — which is to say, we the people — have the backbone to fight back — in a driven, serious, relentless, and sophisticated way — to kneecap a conniving claque of black-robed, rightwing, Evangelical, judicial hacks.

The jury is out on that — for now.

Yesterday’s post suggested not being afraid to do step away from the fray in order to do your thing.

For now, that is path I am continuing on, in order to get back to physical and mental health, after a long period of decline.

Already there’s been some progress, but there is still a long way to go.

So, SCOTUS malevolence notwithstanding, I went to the nearby barrier island where I take my solo morning walks.

I decided to go the public beach area for a swim.  Did a lot of stretching and running-in-place in the sheet-of-glass ocean in clear blue waters, under the watchful eye of lifeguards.

Around lunchtime, I took my dog to what I call “The Waterfalls” area of the Florida HOA where I reside 6 months of the year.

She seemed to enjoy it, but I am looking forward to going back to New York in a week and a half, as it is getting quite hot in Florida at the moment.

Good thing my wife and I have a domicile in leafy Westchester as insurance against a civil war that seems to be inching closer by the day.

Should that day come, I assure you Sherman’s march through Georgia will seem like a cakewalk.

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How to Stay Calm & Enjoy the Rest of Your Life

jupiter island

Yesterday, the beach I normally go to was full of seaweed.  I walked about 25 minutes to the marker I set as a minimum distance for my daily exercise routine. Saw almost no birds except for a pelican.  No swimming in the ocean today, alas.

pelican

Chatted briefly with the park ranger about a dead turtle situation, further down, near what is known as Peck Lake. Will have to check it out when beach walking gets easier.

Though it’s hot in much of the country, the weather in this part of Florida yesterday was perfect for walking, with a light breeze and a few clouds blocking the sun.

Right now as I type this at dawn on a Thursday, the weather data is as follows.

atmospherics

Thinks it will be perfect for a nice, long bike ride, after I finish my morning chores.

foghorn leghornRight now I am about half an hour away from the start of Morning Joe.

I usually watch a few minutes of his aw shucks, I’m-just-a-simple-country-lawyer Foghorn Leghorn routine.

Some people just love to hear themselves talk.

When I’ve had enough of his predictable ramblings, my day will start for real with walking my German Shepherd by the nearby tennis courts.

Then it will be time to pay off some bills and do a few other mundane things.

When I am not engaged in a writing project, my general philosophy is to do one major thing a day.

Not two.  Not five.

One.

So maybe one day you do your taxes.

Or wash the car.

Or plant something beautiful in your garden.

Or go for a SUP board ride in safe waters.

Or do an hour of beginner’s yoga for men.

Or go out bike riding for 10 miles.

Or read 50 pages from some intelligent book.

That is known as kicking back in retirement, and not giving a shit about the crazies out there.

It means you set your own time pace.  You are competing against no-one; conversely, as much as it possible in this world, you do not dance to any tune but your own.

This is how I’ve lost 15 lbs this summer in less than 6 weeks (so far), and brought my blood pressure down from 180/100 (approaching stroke territory) to what it was this morning when I woke up: 123/70, with a 60 BPM heart rate, without any heavy duty medications.

How did I do it?

The secret is to stay focused on a non-mickey mouse project that matters to you personally; trust your instincts; don’t sweat what you can’t control; and never get sucked in by anyone’s bullshit.

That last one is the absolute key.

As long as you always keep it in mind, no matter what, you will have at least a fighting chance of being as free as that pelican.

Well, dispensing clichéd, free life coach advice is easy.

Doing this shit consistently isn’t.

So turn off your computer, and go do something real for a change.

leaving america