Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beach Bums

I grew up on Whitmore Lake, a reasonably sized lake about 15 miles north of Ann Arbor. I saw lots of waterfowl, as you can imagine, although I must confess the for the longest time I thought all ducks were mallards. I loved the geese, who would come with their babes and eat bread. But my favorite were the Great blue herons. Regal and mysterious, I was never able to get remotely close to one. I don't know if they heard me or saw me, but even in stealth mode I could not get near them. Our house was on the top of a wooded hill but even so, they would often be gone from the end of the dock before I'd reached the bottom of the stairs.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this on the beach in southern Florida:

There stood this bird a short distance from a group of people who where fishing from the shore. I couldn't believe it. Obviously looking for a hand-out, this bird, and another further down the shore, were just sort of hanging out with these folks.

He or she was not too keen on me getting between it and the water. It started to its right...

..then stopped...

...then started again. Notice the broken toe on its right foot.

It paused again to contemplate...

...but eventually gave up and flew away. Harrumph!

The other bird was a bit closer to the action.

He watched the man's every move very closely. I did not see either one get a fish but I imagine they have in the past or they would not be hanging around.

When I look closely at them, I realize they really are rather odd-looking birds. Their beaks are just huge in comparison to their heads, and it's a wonder they can hold them up.

But when I step back and take in the whole bird, I think again that I've never seen anything quite so magnificent.

Even if it is begging for scraps....

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