Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gray day on the bay

The only day this week that I could get out to the bay was Wednesday and it just so happened to be the cloudiest morning of all. But, there were no winds to speak of, making the bay waters smooth. That alone was enough to get me out there despite the low light conditions and the fact my flash is still away for repairs.

I arrived at Matheson and the kindly gentleman who usually greets cars at the gate and collects $5, no, make that $6, was not there this morning at about 6:15 am when I arrived. I drove to the end of the road where the launch site is located, conveniently away from the busy marina and boat traffic that parades out to the bay with the Miami cityscape as a back drop. It seemed very quiet this morning; no one at the launch site except for the 2 rascal raccoons that make their presence known as soon as a car pulls up.

I unloaded as the sky barely lit up; the sun hidden behind a waxy coat of clouds. There would be no orange or red hues this morning, only a silvery appearance. The American flag that someone stuck in the ground at the edge of the high tide line lay calmly against the pole. Soon, I was drifting off into the shallow water of the outgoing tide that would reach its low point in an hour or so. Heavy clumps of sea grasses interrupted the glassy water all along the mangrove shoreline. As the tide continued to go out, more of it appeared and for about 100-150 ft from the mangroves, the water was not seen as it was all grass. This is where the wading birds should be right about now.

I paddled slowly not seeing any birds. Near the creek entrance south of the launch site is where I usually see the most action. On this dark morning, I saw none for some time until I noticed one lone white bird further down the shoreline. It was a juvenile little blue heron and I chased it around for awhile. A couple tricolor herons appears a bit later and I had more fun with one of them. I managed to sneak relatively close to it, but as with most lone birds out here, it didn't allow me to get too close as it danced around the water catching food.

The sun barely appeared brighter but there were a few good moments where the mangrove reflections lit up the water. I never dropped the ISO below 620 today and for one short period I had it up to 1800. I didn't expect to get many photos today, but I was happy to see some birds. Speaking of, not one ibis came in to feed. That was unusual, they tend to be relatively common in this area. There was a brown pelican noisily diving in the very shallow waters; how they do that without breaking their beaks is a mystery to me.

An hour or so later, I noticed a great blue heron standing on the edge of the grassy flats in front of the creek. It was a juvenile, more of a reddish tint than a blue. This bird didn't seem to mind my presence and let me get quite close. I hung out with it, first with the camera and then without. I just watched it for awhile. A glider came over the mangroves with a buzzy noise and that piqued the bird's interest as it craned its long neck up and cocked its head to one side, attempting to hear the strange noise and see the strange object fly overhead. I was making my own noise, getting water out of the cooler and unwrapping a granola bar, but the bird did not seem to mind. Chalk it up to youth I guess.

I was off the water early today, about 8:30 or so. Soon I was driving in Miami traffic. But before heading back to the traffic, I stopped at the little pond near the entrance into Matheson. There, an art object had recently been placed. It appeared to be a silvery color and floated in the water surrounded by marshy grasses and mangroves. The sculpture was of red mangroves, emphasizing the prop roots. It was stunning in contrast to the rich greens all around it. I captured some photos of it with the 70-400mm lens.

It wasn't my best day on Biscayne Bay by far and I felt a touch of sadness this morning too. Seems the oil leak in the gulf has turned me into a depressed human being. There are so many layers to this tragedy and each just makes me sad and angry. As of this writing, we already know the oil is in the loop current and it will only be a matter of days before it starts washing up on the keys. In the meantime, there is some glimmer of hope that the leak will be plugged within a few days or so; but given that this is coming from the mouths of BP men, I'm not putting much stock in that.

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