The Wrong Shoes

Header: Great Blue Heron At Sunrise

An Osprey called as she flew over my head while I was getting out of the car. She was followed by a flight of several White Ibises heading from their nightly roosting area to some spot they knew would provide an adequate breakfast. A nice paved path led from the parking lot to the dock which jutted a short ways into Lake Crago. Boat-tailed Grackles cranked up the volume at my approach to the lake’s edge. The sun was about to peek over the eastern shoreline as a Great Blue Heron stalked the shallows among the reeds.

My normal walking shoes are something called “cross-trainers”, designed for runners who like to speed across hill and dale, mud and rock, leaves and puddles. This particular pair has never had to worry about being abused in such a fashion. Running is something I may have done once to catch a train in Germany. The shoes have been fabulous for what I do. Walk slowly in easily maneuvered areas, stopping often, occasionally stepping into the edge of a lake or fording a shallow stream. They are very comfortable.

Yesterday, those normal walking shoes got pretty wet and were not dry this morning. Plan B. Hiking boots. Large. Substantial. Heavily lined (“water resistant”). So naturally I selected a venue consisting of paved trails. But I could have gone into the bush, if I had wanted to.

Today’s exploration was short but filled with amazing things. The heron fishing, a group of huge mushrooms, dragons, damsels, a tired butterfly, birds, a snake, alligators. I promised Gini I wouldn’t be long so I was back home in under two hours. Pretty good, for me.

Scenes seen can be seen soon.

The subtle colors of a Little Blue Heron seem really dark before the sun brightens them up.

A group of six large mushrooms was pretty impressive. Each cap exceeded six inches across.

Patience is a virtue. The Great Blue Heron must be one of the most virtuous creatures in the bird world. They seem able to wait forever for a meal to appear.

I could not convince this Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) to turn for a better angle so this is all you get.

It should not be surprising there are plenty of Osprey around any water source in Florida. They are not all as cooperative about posing as nicely as this model.

Brightening up the morning was this great-looking Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida). The white stigma near the wingtips are like flags signaling “Here I am!”.

Ms. Cardinal was not happy that I woke her up. I promised next time to bring her coffee.

Looking a bit tattered, a Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) was visiting as many blooming Spanish Needle, or Beggarticks (Bidens alba) as possible for sufficient nectar.

Although the Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) is a damselfly which is common over a large range, it can look very different depending on specific location. In Florida, the species is very dark and is known as a Black Dancer (Argia fumipennis atra).

Sometimes, your feet get tired of sifting through mud for a meal and you just have to find a comfortable branch to give them a rest. A Wood Stork in a pine tree may not be the normal view we have of this big wader, but he looks pretty good surrounded by all that green.

Speaking of giving your feet a rest. I’m headed to the house where I’ll kiss and hug Gini, slip into my bare feet, make a pot of coffee and burn some bacon. Even if you aren’t wearing your favorite shoes, get out early, celebrate a sunrise and all that Nature has to offer!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

24 Comments on “The Wrong Shoes

  1. There a few things I applaud about modern day consumer goods, mostly tacky, cheap trash but I must agree with you Wally. Modern trainers are brilliant for us oldies with wrinkly feet. I’m a fan of New Balance to help me keep on the straight and narrow.

    You’re right about those herons too. I could never be a heron because at 1800 hours I have to eat and I usually do.

    I wonder how many times you clicked on that Osprey? If I lived in Florida I think I would need a whole series of SD cards for the Ospreys alone, not to mention the egrets and herons. As it is, I have millions of pictures of Linnets.

    Wishing you and Gini all the best from sunny UK.

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    • And right on cue, my trusty “heavy” hiking boots gave up the ghost during yesterday’s trek into the extreme mud of a field of flowers. Sigh. They were good to me but they shall not be replaced.

      You are right about the herons and their patience. When it’s time to eat, I don’t relish standing around in the water waiting for the food to appear.

      Thank goodness for modern technology in photography! Thinking about purchasing all the film needed to chase those Ospreys and their friends gives me a headache.

      “Sunny U.K.” Now there’s a phrase I don’t often hear. SWMBO and my own self wish you good birding!

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  2. Please excuse this very late visit, Wally. You posted this whilst we were on our last day on the Isles of Scilly and I reckoned it would be best to digest it when I got home and could delight in its full glory on the large screen of my PC. However, we got home to find the power had tripped out and we had the contents of three feezers and a fridge to dispose of, and then meticulously clean out each appliance and start the re-stocking process, so that we can eat! Anyway, we’re starting to return to normality, and so here I am.

    Once again, I had difficulty getting past your fabulous header! The struggle was was worth the effort, however, and I now feel totally relaxed and able to enjoy your writing and images. The main ‘wows’ for me were the Osprey and Wood Stork images. After 15 years as a volunteer on the Rutland Osprey Project I still haven’t managed an Osprey image a quarter as good as that one of yours. The main interest though was, of course, the odonata.

    As for wet shoes, I can relate to that. Weight limit on the plane to the Scillies is very restrictive, so I only took a pair of walking shoes (which travelled on my feet to save weight), and a pair of what I refer to as ‘my dancing shoes’ (I’ve never danced in my life! – they were bought for tai chi) to wear indoors at the property. Most nights the walking shoes were sitting on top of the central heating boiler to dry out!

    Take good care – best wishes to you both – – – – Richard

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    • Welcome home!

      We are very happy you had another chance to visit the Isles of Scilly but are totally distressed at the welcome you received on your return. As veterans of the “spoiled food in the freezer clean-up brigade”, we totally empathize with your distasteful experience.

      Thank you for such kind comments on the images. We take Ospreys for granted I’m afraid. We grew up with them looking over our shoulders as we fished and then they would show us how it’s done!

      We are well. We are happy. We are going birding.

      Here is hoping you and Lindsay can sit down and relax for a bit!

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  3. If I were to count the number of times I have had wet feet while birding, I’d lose another day or two or birding while counting. Why is it that footwear that is claimed to be waterproof gives no indication that it is only true for the first two or three times you wear them, and then only walking on dew-laden grass? I have a pair of trusty old rubber boots in the car and if I KNOW it is likely to be wet, that’s what I wear. Not the most comfortable for long distance walking, but at least I have dry feet. and when the air temperature is 2 degrees in November, that’s a good thing!

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    • “Marketing”. The fine print says something like “Water Resistant”. As you say, only until about the third trip.

      My current “walking shoes” have little leather components and dry fairly quickly. In the short winter, sturdy boots help and I try to avoid actual wading.

      “Wellies” and I do not play well together.

      Two degree weather only happens if I travel great distances from home. A rare occurrence.

      Thank you for sending us a few warblers to admire!

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  4. Wally I just might have got the email notification to work and I will know when you right another post. Here’s hoping

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  5. There is a shoe for every occasion Wally and having the right one is the best way for comfortable feet. Love the Dragonfly shot in the wonderful morning light. Glad you enjoyed your early morning 2 hours in nature adn thanks for such wonderful photographs. I am still not getting email reminders of your posts however I thank you for commenting on my blog and that is the way I go through to see you posts. A bit hit and miss but better than nothing. Have a good week ahead.

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    • Thank you, Margaret!

      Gini and I reminisced the other day about how carefree we were as children running barefoot in rain-filled ditches catching frogs. I guess the only thing that has changed is our footwear!

      I’ll keep posting on your blog and will try to remember to provide a hint when we have a new blog up.

      All the best from us both!

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  6. Hello,
    A good pair of shoes is necessary for birding, preferably waterproof. Beautiful collection of birds and nature images.
    Happy birding, enjoy your day!

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  7. A very enjoyable morning stroll Wally, and nicely illustrated. Since I usually go out about an hour before sunrise, I rarely walk for less than 2 hours. Of course part of the “walk” is standing on a peninsula in the lake listening for owls and whippoorwills and watching the sky at sunrise.

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    • Thank you very much, Ken.

      Yes, for a birder, going for a two-hour “walk” does not necessarily equate to getting a lot of exercise! Unless you count straining your neck muscles. 🙂

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  8. Love the Wood Stork perched in the tree and seeing an Osprey! I am missing our Osprey already, they have left the Chesapeake Bay area, headed for their winter grounds in South America. A tropical vacay!

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  9. The wings of the Red Saddlebags look like cloisonné. As for that Wood Stork ~ I’ve never seen one in a tree. Of course, I’ve seen them only a few times through the years, so that’s not surprising.

    As for Ospreys, they’re back. We have a few residents, but every fall many more return. I always hear them before I see them, they fly so high. And then? They perch on the masts in the marinas, and one has chosen the main mast of a boat I happen to be working on. I wouldn’t mind so much, except he takes his equivalent of morning coffee atop the mast, and every day I have to clean up mess that drops down before I can go to work!

    I’ve finally learned to alternate between sturdy hiking boots and knee-high heavy boots. The knee highs offer as much protection against unseen fire ant mounds as water, and there’s no predicting where they’re going to be lurking.

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    • It is always fascinating to see how art attempts to imitate nature.

      We’re fortunate to be near many Wood Stork rookeries, so seeing them perched in trees is not an unusual sight. My uncle referred to them as “flintheads” due to the gray, stone-like appearance of their head.

      To be fair, If the Osprey didn’t perch on your masts, a seagull or cormorant would and you would still have a clean-up job to do.

      I’ve tried many types of footwear over the years and, for the type of general walking I do here in Florida, these “cross trainers” I found have been the best. Not much leather in the construction, very sturdy soles and Kevlar laces which tuck into a pouch so they don’t collect mud and stickers.

      It’s October already! A little less humidity and a couple degrees “cooler” is making our mornings very pleasant.

      Thanks for visiting with us, Linda. Have a terrific week!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow Wally: “no coffee in my own system yet!”

    I’d never try that. Your photos and observation skills are even more impressive without morning coffee!

    Anyway, I really like your header image of the Great Blue Heron At Sunrise and the Woodstork – wonderful!

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