Blissful Bucolic Balm

Header Image: Tricolored Heron


“Bless you.”

Gini and I sneezed our way through the first two weeks of December. Intense testing, analyses and expert medical opinions told the sad tale. “Y’all got a cold.”

We are seldom sick and one of us, which we shall not name, acts like a big baby when he has the sniffles. Gini is a kitchen magician and she waved her wand over a huge pot and “poof“, soup with curative powers flowed for days. Sleep was elusive at first, but bodies have a way of shutting down when required and, eventually, we both were able to take a 72-hour nap.

Following a regimen of soup and sleep had us feeling much better but not “well”. What to do? (You already know the answer.)


One of our local patches is exactly 2.4 miles (3.9 km) from our front door. The Bridgewater Tract of Tenoroc Fish Management Area consists of several lakes, upland pine woods, stands of hardwood (oak, hickory, elm, bay), fields of sedge and other grasses and small wetland areas. An improved dirt/crushed shell road winds its way through the area and we usually stop at each of the boat ramps which provide fair views of the lakes. Several parking spots exist at trailheads and one could easily spend a couple of days wandering the area.

It was a Florida winter day. A hint of coolness in the early morning air gave way to warmth by mid-morning. No clouds interfered with the golden rays of the sun we knew would assist in the healing process. The incessant screams of a Red-shouldered Hawk greeted us at the entrance gate, letting the natural world know that intruders were here! Among the soft pine needles below the neighborhood watch hawk we were treated to roving gangs of Palm and Pine Warblers, a Blue-headed Vireo, diminutive Downy Woodpeckers and chattering Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

The lakes were centers of activity for clucking Common Gallinules, dancing Tricolored Herons, shy Pied-billed Grebes and nervous Wood Ducks. Huge Brown Pelicans roused from their shoreline roosts and crashed into the water’s surface scooping up pouchfuls of small fish. Not having a convenient pouch, Osprey also crashed into the water, but used their substantial talons to snatch a bit larger fish for breakfast.

Winter. Florida. In addition to a wonderful diversity of birds, we found blooming flowers, dragonflies and even butterflies. No wonder we love it here.

As we headed for the exit, we sighed together with one deep breath. Sunshine. Birds. Butterflies. A warm breeze rustling pine and palm trees. None of this may have actually helped “heal” our ailments. But it didn’t hurt.

First impression said it was a pretty blue flower. Then it flew away. Then we found a half-dozen more. Small and fluttering, the Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus) can certainly brighten a day! We seldom see them with open wings.

Pecking, probing, constantly on the move. A little male Downy Woodpecker is handsome with his sleek black and white suit and red nape.

In our area, we see House Finches at our feeder infrequently and even less often in the “wild”. Today we were surprised by three females and one male feeding near a boat ramp. Male House Finches’ head color can vary from nearly red to orange to yellow. The more carotenoids in their diet, the more red in their plumage.

A curious female Northern Cardinal wasn’t sure if were a threat or not. We didn’t move for awhile and she continued feeding.

Masses of bright yellow flowers decorating the banks of lakes and scattered across wetlands at this time of year make us thankful for the Bur-marigold (Bidens laevis). Walking through these plants makes us less thankful as the “beggar-ticks” can be a pain to scrape off pants and socks.

We were entertained for a bit by a pair of Tricolored Herons. They performed an intricate ballet of sorts as they danced across the water, spread their wings, pirouetted and stabbed under lily pads for a snack.

Movement nearby revealed a Black-and-White Warbler scurrying down a tree trunk imitating a Nuthatch. I was only able to snap one quick image before the small beauty disappeared.

The constant calling from a nearby branch alerted us that a Blue-headed Vireo wanted her picture taken, please. Happy to oblige.

Venturing outdoors for the first time in a couple of weeks did not heal us. It DID help us feel better. Our spirits were lighter and there is no medicine which can accomplish that.

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


M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S !!

21 Comments on “Blissful Bucolic Balm

  1. Even if I’m not sick, I’m feeling better just reading about your outing and seeing the birds, butterflies, and blooms. There is no better treatment than being out in nature.


  2. Sincerely hope that cold has left the building for you both! Very nice, close-by patch to be beautifully entertained with color and wildlife, that surely helps the cold blues a bit, surrounded by Mrs. J’s soothing soup. ๐Ÿ˜Š I hope Christmas was still a wonderful blessing. We enjoyed ours.

    I am starting to feel the Florida blues as we are not planning on snowbirding this coming winter down your way. Sigh. I know from the past two winters what I am going to miss with your bird paradise this coming season. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll have to suffice with your posts. Keep ’em coming, Wally! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿค—


  3. Your observations and photos intensify my disappointment with the lack of diversity of bird species seen since we moved to Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. You found the right prescription for your symptoms!


    • Disappointment is certainly not on our list of “goals” for the blog! Hopefully, some of our images will invoke sweet memories at some point.

      We certainly hope all the best for you, Ken.

      A New Year is upon us and we hope yours will be filled with Peace and Joy.


  4. Hi Young Lovers. 72 hours is one long sleep. I’m pretty sure that I would have to pay a visit to the loo during such slumber.

    Sorry to hear about your common cold although of course your cures were timely and well chosen. Touch wood, we have both steered clear of of respiratory viruses so far, mostly due to being careful and a diet of ‘proper’ food and fresh air. This despite our regular contact with children fresh from the school yard and classrooms with open windows in the middle of winter because of the heating systems turned to ‘max’. Any hint of sniffles by us demands a bedtime glass of ouzo or a G&T respectively.

    Good to see you hitting the birding trail despite the lure of Christmas fayre and Christmas TV – keep up the good work both.

    Here’s Wishing you a Happy New Year from Lancashire. Stay well.


    • We are loathe to admit we acquired anything “common”, but the alternative would be to accept we had an “exotic” virus. “Common” was preferable in this case.

      Happy to report we’re back to our mischievous selves.

      The coming year will hold wondrous surprises for us all! Can’t wait to find out what they are!

      Happy New Year!


  5. You get the best photos! That lady Cardinal cracks me up; what an expression. It was nice to see the Tri-colored Heron, too. I spent a little time trying to figure out whether I’d seen one of those, or a Little Blue Heron, over the weekend. The behavior of the Tri-colored is one of the things that helped me sort it out. As for that blue butterfly — what can I say? It deserves to be made into a Cloisonnรฉ brooch!

    It’s good to hear that you’re improving, albeit a bit slowly. Sleep and soup are two elements of my holy trinity when it comes to recovery; the other is fresh-squeezed orange juice. It’s been a while since I’ve had to invoke that trinity, and I hope it’s a good time longer. I trust your Christmas was lovely, and hope that full recovery comes in time for you and Gini to ring in the new year in your own inimitable way!


    • The birds supply the antics, I’m just pleased to be able to record them once in awhile.

      I spoke to the butterfly and he wasn’t sure what a brooch was but thought he’d prefer to just flitter around instead, thank you very much. Now my goal is to photograph the female with wings open. She is much darker and almost brown, instead of that pretty blue.

      Well, we ARE native Floridians, so fresh orange juice was at the top of our treatment list. Really helped soothe throats roughened up from coughing.

      Christmas was great, The New Year will be a spectacular one!

      All the best from a couple of brilliant rays in the Sunshine State!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you and Gini are feeling better. Lynn and I are grateful for your “Natural Places” report. I probably won’t get back out until after our visitors leave, so seeing your lovely photos is a nice substitute!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  7. Having such a beautiful habitat virtually on your doorstrep is a real bonus, Wally. Raising one’s spirits is an essential part of any healing process, and this excursion seems to have been just what was needed to achieve that.

    I’m hoping that any residual health issues have not been interferring with your enjoyment of Christmas, and that 2022 will be a happy and healthy year for you both, and the rest of the family.

    Take good care – – – Richard


    • We have been “sniffles free” for almost two weeks and feel great. Had a wonderful Christmas dinner with our daughter and family.

      The New Year will ring in and we shall all enjoy life to the fullest extent possible!

      Gini and I continue to wish you and Lindsay all the best each day may offer!


  8. Sorry to hear you have not been well, Wally, but it seems like recovery is underway. While it may not ameliorate the physical symptoms, a stroll through nature’s wonders will certainly boost your mental outlook. There’s no better medicine – along with a little homemade soup, that is. All the best for the holidays. May 2022 be the year we kick COVID out the back door!


    • Thank you, David.

      We are definitely almost back to 100%. A few more good night’s sleep ought to do it. Well, that and those strolls you mention!

      Cheers to the New Year. It WILL be better than the last!


  9. Butterflies in December! You guys really need a proper winter break to appreciate such little gems. Only kidding, always a joy to see such diversity at this time of the year. Loved the B&W Warbler shot, great capture!

    Stay safe folks.


    • Having lived in areas where we experienced a “proper winter”, we’ll take the sunshine, thank you.

      It’s great to be able to observe nature no matter where one lives!

      Thanks, Brian!

      Liked by 1 person

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