February 23, 2019
Today on my Facebook page, a memory popped up from one year ago today. It was a fond memory, I thought, and worth revisiting…
February 23, 2018: There’s nothing quite like a sunny sky, a good friend, and a shared enthusiasm to make a perfect day. Yesterday was just such a day. My friend Carol and I headed out on an adventure to the Myakka River State Park (Sarasota, Florida) armed with our binoculars and cameras and a bucket full of hope that we would find an interesting bird or bug or alligator.
We hadn’t even reached the park when a very large, unfamiliar bird flew into my periphery. I whipped the car over to the side of the road, grabbed my camera, jumped out of the car and tried to get a picture. I was so excited (as I often am in these situations) that I could hardly hold the camera steady enough to take a decent picture! The bird was ginormous! It was something I had never seen before! But he kept flitting around and it was hard for me keep him in focus. First he hopped away from me, then he flew across the road and into a tree. Then he hung around in the tree for a short minute before flying back to the ground. After that, he ran into the middle of the road! I managed to keep shooting pictures, but some of the very best shots were extremely over-exposed because, in my brainless excitement, I forgot to change the settings! The bird, by the way, was a Southern Crested Caracara! It has a wingspan of around four feet and is the second largest species of falcon in the world! Hence, my excitement.
After that, I didn’t think there was anything that Carol and I would see in the park that would even come close to the excitement of finding a Caracara. I thought we could pack it all up and go home after such a great find. But, as is often the case, I was wrong. Later in the day, we came across an entire pond full of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks!! I had never even seen or heard a whistling duck, so this was a real treat. Whistling Ducks are just so beautiful with their bright orange beaks and chocolate brown chests, black bellies and lovely grey heads. Plus, they all started whistling for us! What a symphony that was! (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-bellied_Whistling-Duck/sounds)
There were many other birds and bugs and alligators to see and enjoy yesterday, but those two birds were the highlight of my day!