The first thing Liam and I did upon arriving at Merritt Island NWR near Titusville, FL, was to stop right on the road for a bald eagle who was hangin' out on a power pole. I have been there a bunch of times and I'd never seen that. Now, maybe I'm supposed to be blase about an enormous sea eagle 30' over my head. But I'm not. A truck honked at us and swerved, gunning its engine, and it was then I realized it was probably stupid of me to stop on the main road. But still. I was overwhelmed. And as it turned out, we never saw another eagle perched so close. I was glad we'd taken the time to ogle it. Liam took this photo! (I kept handing him my camera, as all the best wildlife was out the passenger side of the car. Wink, wink.)
I always forget that roseate spoonbills have head skin the color of used chewing gum. Freaky greenish-blue. That's a winter American avocet exiting, stage left.
Binocular vision in a young tricolored heron. I like his tighty whities.
Really, what a lovely bird, all painted with rufous. Saw so many of them and never tired of the "Lady of the Lake," either. Pure elegance on the wing or on foot. I do miss the name "Lousiana heron."
When I was a teen, I was pretty sure I'd never get to see a wood stork in my lifetime. They were almost extinct then. I felt the same about brown pelicans and bald eagles. Imagine. I'm that old. But I'm not that old. They've recovered that quickly! There is so much to celebrate in conservation today. Forget the gloom. There are bald eagles on the power poles, and wood storks walking around on lawns and roadside ditches. And that, to me, is a miracle.
Liam liked this wood stork. He narrated its preening. I love birding with Liam.
A raft of northern pintails, hauled out. They have the right idea. Breed in the prairie potholes, winter along the Florida coast. I could dig that seasonal regime, if I had somebody to fly with.
Another Liam Thompson shot, of shovelers! Watch out world, he's got a telephoto!
Yes, it's always worth yanking the kid out of school for a week in January. Never more emphatically so than this January. He told me today (Feb. 2) that he's finally caught up with schoolwork and back in the groove. And that the Florida vacation was worth every minute of grief since he got back.
Atta boy! Way to live.