Small Effort – Huge Reward
(Header Image: Purple Gallinule)
“Work hard to be successful.”
It’s what we tell our kids. We hear it at school. Managers drill it into the heads of the work force. Politicians pretend it can be done by ordinary citizens. Life experience demonstrates that, for the most part, the axiom is accurate. There is considerable evidence to prove the converse is true. Don’t learn the value of labor and one will be reduced to whining and bemoaning the fact that no one will give them anything. Those politicians mentioned above are quick to provide rewards to the lazy in exchange for votes. Once elected, however, promised rewards disappear and massive whining resumes.
Once in awhile, fortune favors the unsuspecting observer. I am a firm believer in another old saying: “The harder one works, the luckier one becomes.” Ever notice rare or unusual bird sightings are often reported by familiar birders? These are the folks who are out in nature often and most readily notice something different in areas with which they are familiar.
So, there I was, shortly after dawn the other day, pausing along the shore of our local patch, Lake Parker Park, being thankful for the ability to breathe deeply the fresh air and bask in the orange glow of sunrise reflecting on the water’s surface. Movement to my right. A female Snail Kite landed in the top of a small cypress tree, her flashing red eyes darting here and there searching for an apple snail on a reed below. Splashing to my left was a Purple Gallinule, oversized yellow feet scrambling across lily pads in search of breakfast.
I only managed a few steps and a small cloud of dragonflies lifted from the brushy border where they spent the night. Ten yards down the path, a Great Egret ignored my approach as she concentrated on a watery buffet table. Young Ospreys screeched overhead as they soared on newly fledged wings and tried to get the hang of crashing into the lake and coming up with a fish.
Less than an hour had passed and I paused to consider how fortunate we are. Sights and sounds we take for granted would be considered incredible by many around the world who do not have such a venue available. Here’s hoping we never forget to accept our natural bounty with humble grace.
From her perch atop a cypress tree near the lake’s shore, this female Snail Kite is in a great position to scan the weeds for apple snails. Our local population of this endangered species has increased over the past few years and I feel certain they are breeding around this lake.
Our weather is warming and the rainy season is around the corner. This combination is producing a bumper crop of dragonflies. A female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) waits patiently for a meal to appear.
Small and colorful, how can I not adore something called a Coffee-loving Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta tyralis)?
I watched this American Alligator cruise down the middle of the canal and crawl onto the bank. He’s probably about eight feet (2.4 meters) long and still young. As soon as I snapped his picture, he slid back into the water and headed straight for me. I won’t say I walked quickly away, but, I walked quickly away (glancing over my shoulder frequently).
Watching a large water bird such as this Great Egret hunt can be like watching a statue. Their patience is sometimes rewarded with a meal. My patience was rewarded with a terrific experience. (And a photograph.)
Some species of dragonflies seem to almost never perch. Trying to photograph them as they patrol their territory can be an exercise in frustration. One such species is the Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps). Imagine my surprise, and elation (!), to encounter a couple mating right alongside the path!
Gini says the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck always look like they just stepped out of the beauty parlor. Neat, handsome, large and over the past decade around here, very prolific.
Apparently, this Spotted Sandpiper missed her flight to Minnesota. Although we really enjoy seeing her in breeding plumage, as we typically only get to see them in bland gray and white, she best head north soon and hope she can find a nesting spot. Or, perhaps she likes our Florida weather so much, she’s decided to remain for the summer?
When I returned home to a pot of coffee and fresh cantaloupe, Gini asked if I had seen anything special. “The usual”, I answered. “And I didn’t even have to work hard.” Whether you depend on hard work or good fortune (which is often one and the same), we hope you are able to take advantage of your own natural bounty.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!