Testing — Testing
Header Image: Snail Kite
Ribs or chicken?
Almost dark but as it’s winter it wasn’t late. Dinner time, as a matter of fact. Since I forced Gini to accompany me on an impromptu trip to the park this afternoon, it only seemed fair to treat her (okay, and me) to a dinner of her choice. Smoky chicken, green beans, potato salad. She said something about going birding late every day but I didn’t hear much of that part of the conversation.
Earlier in the day, I had been fiddling with camera equipment and suddenly had an impulse to test the results of different camera body and lens arrangements along with a variety of settings. The local park usually offers some large birds that would make suitable targets and the low afternoon angle of the sun should provide some pleasant lighting.
That luck thing was in force. We parked, I slung a camera and long lens over my shoulder, saw a woodpecker and gnatcatcher in the branches above and Gini loudly whispered: “Kite!” At the water’s edge atop a small cypress tree was a male Snail Kite. I walked in his direction trying to keep a large oak tree between us in the hope I wouldn’t scare him away. No worries. He was intent on hunting what would likely be his last meal for the day. The luck held as I was even able to change camera body and lens and came away with a few images I like.
The Florida subspecies of Snail Kite (formerly Everglades Snail Kite) (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) appeared on federal and state endangered species lists in 1967. They remain threatened due to degradation of habitat mainly by agriculture and urban development. Their very specialized diet is almost exclusively made up of apple snails (Pomacea paludosa), which demand a clean water environment to survive. We began seeing Snail Kites at our local patch, Lake Parker Park in Polk County, about five years ago. Last year, we counted six individuals and confirmed they are breeding around the lake. Good news, indeed!
A group of White Ibises strenuously objected to one individual attempting to join their party. A stoic-looking Wood Stork stirred the shallow water and snapped up whatever tried to scoot away. Big yellow feet seemed odd-looking supporting a smallish Snowy Egret. As if to remind us of the time, an Osprey headed across the lake as the sun was setting and the moon rising.
Testing was instructive. The birds were cooperative. Dinner was delicious.
Whether you need to test equipment, taste BBQ or just enjoy a late afternoon in the park, we hope you find the time to do what makes you happy. Life continues to be good.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!