Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life in the grasses

When easterly winds prevail, the grass debris is pushed up against the shoreline of Biscayne Bay. The grasses have accumulated so much that at Matheson Hammock launch site, you have to carry the boat through knee-deep grasses before you reach the water. Near low tide, there is about 25 ft of grasses between land and water, making the launch difficult especially when you have three or more loads to carry through the thick grasses. At any rate, these grasses become the feeding grounds for the wading birds (please note, the "great egret" shown above is a white morph great blue heron).

The shallow waters along the shoreline of the bay also make it precarious for large boats that meander into the area. Case in point, the sailboat "Second Wind" somehow became grounded in these shallow waters several weeks ago. From the last time I saw it, it had been pushed further into the shallows, and now sits right up against the shoreline where it will remain indefinitely.

In the meantime, the birds foraged in the grasses while I hung out with them for a few hours. Got on to a couple of snowy egrets; one appears to be in breeding plumage. Some of the white ibises also appear to be in breeding colors, as their beaks and legs become a deep red as opposed the orange non-breeding color.

Normally, I stay in my boat and get as low as possible when photographing wading birds. However, today the birds were foraging among mounds of grasses, some sticking out of the water 10 in or more. Pools of water formed between these mounds and that is where the birds foraged. Consequently, grass became the foreground and the background of the photos. As I attempted to capture photos of the yellow-foot snowy egret, I noticed that the foreground grasses were not allowing the yellow feet to show. I got out of the boat and stood up. Usually, this is enough to alarm the birds, but today, they stayed. From a higher vantage point, I could see the yellow feet and reflections in the water. These are some of the photos taken during the early morning hours of a beautiful morning.

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