Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A tale of two birds

Egret takes a walk
Deerfield Beach, Florida, January 2007 [Click to see the beak close-up]

All parents eventually find their way to the local pharmacy. And when they do, it's usually because at least one of the little folks responsible for them being parents in the first place is emitting bodily fluids in ways that suggest something is not quite right in Pitkinville. I know that's gross. Then again, so is cleaning the bathroom after a six-year-old's had his way with it. But you don't see me complaining.

Thankfully, my trip to the Walgreens was for nothing more than picking up doodads that kids invariably need when they head for the beach. A happy visit. Phew.

Now, a quick word about parking: I always park as far away from others as possible. I find people to be incredibly rude about how they open their doors in parking lots. They routinely smack the car next to them without so much as a second thought. This fundamental lack of basic decency bugs me. And since I can't change the world, I can at least do my best to keep my vehicle from looking like it's just served as target practice at a driving range.

(Bear with me: I do have a point.)

So I parked waaay off to the end of the parking lot. Beside a stretch of grass next to a leafy clump of bushes. A mere couple of feet from three lanes of traffic rushing to beat the other three lanes of traffic onto the I-95. And I saw a whole whack of birds with their beaks buried in the grass.

Cool, I thought. Lovely white birds with long beaks. Didn't have any like this at home. So I slid the camera out of its case and quietly stood beside the car while I assessed my options. Despite the fact that I was nowhere near them, they sensed my presence and slowly edged away from me. I zoomed the lens to Embiggen Max mode and started shooting anyway. They kept their heads buried.

Eventually, this one lifted his (her? Someone please help me with my fowl-gender-identification skills, as I essentially have, um, none) head and stepped away from the madding crowd. I stabbed the shutter before the magic moment ended. Sure, I ended up filling the card with useless pictures. But I also got The One that was worth keeping. That, I'm learning, is the way things sometimes work in this photography biz.

But wait, there's more...

(I know: You're thinking that Ron Popeil has taken over my blog. You're thinking that pretty soon, a fiendish combination of Ginsu knives, K-Tel records and Popeil Pocket Fisherman products will rise up and try to sell you useless crap with a voice that would make the stereotypical used car salesman proud. And you could potentially be right. Come back after the next picture for the end of this long and winding story.)

Red head
Deerfield Beach, Florida, January 2007 [Click, big head, etc.]

And we're back...

So as I savored the successful egret photo, I turned to walk into the store and saw...a scovie duck. He (again, she? It? Does it even matter?) was hiding in the shade while I stalked the egrets. He didn't move, and instead stood there as if he was posing for a magazine. Far be it for me to disappoint a bird with such a pretty red head. I raised the camera and once again brought home pictures of a bird. Yup, still more photos of flying feathered animals. My photographic legacy. My mother would be proud.

Eventually, I put the camera away, went into the store and found the requisite kid-beach-doodads. I came home late but happy. And the next day, our properly equipped children played happily in the sand.

I have no idea where the birds ended up. Wherever they are, I hope they're happy, too.

Your turn: This entry turned into a long and winding avian journey. It wasn't my original intent, but I had fun writing it. More?


kenju said...

Of course! I am wonderfing why the birds had their beaks in the ground, unless it was damp and they were looking for earthworms.

Catherine said...

Oh yes, we are always up for more. But if that duck is a he, wouldn't he be a drake? (I know - picky, picky). Most of the duck species we get here have quite different plumage depending on gender, so it's not too hard to tell one from the other. But I know nothing about scovy ducks.

srp said...

Muscovy ducks are even found around Virginia Beach. There is one road in particular near our house where they nest and live in the front yards of the neighborhood. In the summer it isn't unusual to see them sitting under the bushes or near the street as the homeowner mows the lawn. Usually there is a small pond or other body of water near the nesting place. They do almost look like the turkey in some respects.

As to the nature of the post.... ramble on in the stream of consciousness form.... Virginia Woolf would be proud!!! :)

Anonymous said...

More please! I love birds in all shapes, sizes and forms. Most people know the Ides of March from Shakespeare. I, on the other hand, know it as the date the buzzards return to Hinckley:

Oddly, at the end of this article, there's a blurb for "related articles." One of them is titled "Trace Your British Ancestors." Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Great photos and well worth the effort.
That's one of the beauties of living in Florida....pretty much everywhere we look, no matter the time of year, we see the wonder of nature.
And as captured it.

Snaggle Tooth said...

Some how, not long after I mentioned my target birds flying away, you got that great seagull shot, then these... somehow, I knew you would soon come up with great birdies!
Guess I need a cam like yours to sneak up on the Poppins that got away...

Anonymous said...

A scovie duck eh? If you ever find yourself at the corner of Riverside and Wonderland (or in Gibbons Park) you might chance to see an odd contraption of a bird, primarily white in color, but with these scovie overtones. I never had my camera handy when I spotted this "creature", but at least now I know its not necessarily a frankenduckgoose bird. =-)


~A~ said...

Hey Carmi -

It's a muscovy duck. Hate to sound like a turd, but Rob and I used to raise them. They are one of the coolest ducks/goose in the world. LOVE THEM!!! Excellent slug eaters, plus they have the extra bonus of not quacking for those who don't want to hear a ton of duck quacking or live in the city.

rob said...

And it's a boy (drake). About 3 years old by my reckoning.

Thanks for making me smile with that picture. I miss my "beedies".