I was rummaging through boxes of film photographs the other day while looking for the fox pictures, and was reminded, as I sit here in 20 degree weather, how warm and green and bird-bizarre Florida really is.
I lived in southwest Florida, in the vicinity of Sarasota/Venice (on the Gulf of Mexico) for 10 years. Two things that took getting used to when I first arrived was that the water was on the left of the map – water to the west. It was backwards from NJ and the Atlantic.
The second thing was the tameness of the bizarro birds. I was used to songbirds and woodpeckers, raptors, ducks – you know, normal looking birds. The herons and wading birds I did see were observed from a respectable distance and flew immediately if you ventured to near. In Florida, you could almost step on one if you weren’t watching where you were going. Surf fishermen had to cover their bait pails to keep the great blue herons from stealing the bait right out of the pail. The bird in the top photo is a roseate spoonbill, the one just above, a limpkin. Funny thing is, in 10 years in Florida, I never saw a flamingo – not once!
Black vultures were plentiful and liked to roost on the railings of the boardwalk by the pond where I lived. A little creepy, but also very cool birds.
Of course, my favorite part of Florida was the beach, which I am missing terribly at the moment. Now, when I want to see gulls and hear their calls, I go to the parking lot of the shopping center in Newton. It’s near enough to the landfill, and in stormy weather, for some reason is a congregating spot for gulls. I wonder if, in their little gull-sized brains, the asphalt looks to them like a beach? More likely, the McDonalds and KFC have something to do with it…
While most people want to go to Florida in the winter, I’m waiting until July or August. I’ll go visit my mother and brothers, and spend some time with Mother Ocean. The water will be a balmy 85-89 degrees, just how I like it. I’ll take my chances for a little while and wade right out there up to my knees, doing the ‘sting ray shuffle’ and watching for sharks. Later, it’s fresh coffee and sunset on the beach. Life is warmer there, and good.