Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. ~ Rumi

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Limpkin's Prize


This is the time of our dry down with little or no rain occurring during the winter months. Some of the water from the sheet flow settles deeper into the pools found in the lowest sections of the cypress swamp. It was here that I was able to witness the bird behavior that keeps me coming back for more. This late winter landscape was a calm scene. Afternoon sunlight lit up the water through the still leafless cypress and the ponds were abundant with aquatic life. Wading birds close by included a great egret, White Ibis, Little Blue Heron, and Great Blue Heron. Anhingas were courting with the males bringing one token branch after another to a female who wanted nothing to do with their offerings. A Black-crowned Night Heron perched on a branch farther out across the pond preening and waking up. Barred Owls called to each other in the distance.

But this late afternoon the star of the show was a limpkin wading in the dark clean water with a tip on the end of his bill that curved slightly to the right, meant for only one thing. This individual was particularly vocal and excited as it continued to find and remove one apple snail after another from their right-handed shell. After retrieving what was perhaps the largest one in this body of water, the great blue heron, the master it seems at wading through these waters with patience and grace, slowly tuned his focus toward the Limpkin. The Limpkin headed toward the shallow end, using some floating vegetation to support his prize. His struggle to retrieve his prey pulled not only me in for a closer look, but the patient and graceful Great Blue Heron as well, a bird that appears to have elevated standing meditation to an art form in the bird world. At the point where the meat dangled from the shell and his satisfaction was imminent, this swamp story unfolded with an unexpected ending. The patient and graceful Great Blue Heron made his move, pouncing from behind with his bill aimed at the apple snail. But the Limpkin was keen to his sneaky ways and slipped out with the expertise of a martial artist, devouring his meal in a less crowded area of the pond. The heron would have to be patient a little longer.


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