When you are in Florida, do what the Floridians do–walk on the beach. What better way to start the day, especially when the walk is with good friends and ends with brunch on the beach. That’s exactly how we began Super Sunday 2015. The dilemma for a birder every time you leave the house is always, do I take the camera and/or binoculars, or travel au naturale? This depends on your companions, time constraints, weather and lighting constraints, etc. This time I left the equipment home, and soon regretted the decision.
Pelican Bay has a wonderful walk along the berm and through the mangroves before reaching the beach. There are always wading birds here, but today they were numerous and spectacular and the light was perfect. Great Blue Herons posed within feet of the path and a large flock of Snowy Egrets landed nearly at our feet. There were Tricolor Herons, Great Egrets, White Ibis, Brown Pelicans, and Little Blue Herons just waiting for the eager photographer. Oh well… but it got worse.
After brunch we headed north on the beach 2 miles to complete the loop back to the condo. An astute birder friend called out a low-flying Osprey heading out to sea and carrying a fish, a good photo-op itself. As we were debating why the bird wasn’t heading inland to land and eat his catch, our question was answered. A beautiful adult Bald Eagle swooped down and angled for the fish. Eagles are like that–they rarely catch their own, preferring to find dead fish or steal from others. The osprey, more concerned now with survival than brunch, dropped the fish and turned on the eagle chasing it inland, right over our heads, all this in perfect light and close enough for great action shots. What an episode to witness and photo-op to miss! The only photo we got was from an non-birder who had a cell-phone handy and was quick enough to capture the eagle flyover.
My friend and fellow birder/photographer, and I were lamenting the missed opportunity when my wife, who always favors the “camera free” walks, reminded us of William Blake’s poem “Eternity”…
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.
She and Blake are right. Sometimes its better to just observe and enjoy the unexpected events that surround us everyday, and leave the camera home.