Sunday, October 7, 2012

Columbus day weekend on the bay

Anyone in Miami with a boat recognizes this holiday weekend as being famous for the Columbus Day Regatta (a trademarked name that is now known as the BARDARDI Columbus Day Regatta) that is sailed on Biscayne Bay. This weekend marks the 58th anniversary of the regatta, which is the oldest organized event on the bay. The regatta is a sailing race, but over the years it has become associated with the infamous powerboat parties. Hundreds of powerboats anchor near Elliott Key which becomes Biscayne Bay's version of south beach. Everyone in Miami, including those that remotely pay attention to the local news recognizes this weekend to be the most dangerous boating weekend of the year. Alcohol/drugs, stupidity and boating never go well together and with so many boats on the water, the combination of these three ingredients is a common recipe for inevitable tragedy.

While all of that mayhem was happening offshore, I was on the western shoreline Saturday morning, quietly approaching the wading birds. It was dark when my canoe touched the water, but soon, the sun began to peer over the horizon that had already become speckled with boats. I wanted to come here as the low tide was suitable for lots of wading birds in that perfect morning light. I knew there would be more than the usual noises coming from the nearby boat channel, but the birds would still be there.

I paddled about 1/2 mile south of the launch area and there were plenty of birds lining the shoreline. Despite the nearby activity of powerboats and occasional helicopter flying over, it was peaceful as usual. Early on, I spotted the albino yellowcrown heron, but not to capture it. And surprisingly, the out-of-place mute swan flew past in a southerly direction just before sunrise. There appeared to be several young great blue herons actively feeding in the waters. At one point, I watched a flock of them (about 5) fly over. This was unusual, so I figured these might also be juveniles and perhaps there is a nesting site nearby.

So much bird activity on the water today. The tide was perfect as the low occurred at about 8:30 am, followed by a steady incoming that provided me another hour and half with the birds. By 10:30 am, the only birds seen on the water were a few great white egrets, large enough to wade in 6 or more inches of water. The smaller waders had all disappeared quietly into the trees, where they would be until the next low tide. All this happening, while another part of the bay was anything but peaceful.

1 comment:

  1. A BEAUTIFUL post, Connie. Thanks so much for reminding people how special this place is, and that Columbus Day Weekend isn't all about sex, drugs and booze.