Friday, March 23, 2007

Fine-feathered fen friends

After this post, I'll stop swamping you with swamp photos. I've saved the bird pictures for last. (I had to print them all out first, so my boss could identify them for us.)

First up is the American Coot. It looks like a duck and swims like a duck--but it isn't a duck. We saw dozens and dozens of these birds.

See what I mean?

Next we have a pair of ducks of the Blue-Winged Teal persuasion. I don't know whether the distinctly marked male was a) foraging for food or b) hiding from the paparazzi.

These beauties are Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. I love their red bills. You can't tell it here, but they have legs and feet to match.

This is no doubt a happy couple. Reportedly, these ducks pair up for the long haul, sometimes even for life.

It was fairly amazing to see large white blobs scattered among the treetops. This is a Great Egret sitting conspicuously on her nest. I guess this mother-to-be is large enough she doesn't feel the need to hide from predators.

For the grand finale, here's my favorite photo of the whole batch, featuring another Great Egret. I love the way this beautiful bird stands out against the background of Spanish moss, cypress knees and periwinkle.

There you have it, folks. Thanks to digital technology, I can share these "swamp samples" with you fairly easily. If I could figure out some way to share the spiritually restorative quality of that single hour in the swamp, you know I'd do it.


  1. These pictures are great.....The Gators were so big and the birds are beautiful......You need to get out more often!

  2. Thank you for sharing the Swamp Velvet, I so enjoyed it.

  3. Velvet - you do magic with your picture taking skills just as you do with your writing! Amazing!

    I emailed you a bit back...

  4. Oh, the spiritual quality comes through, I know you 'd have to be there to get the full benefit of it, but you gave us a little taste of it. Those are magnificent birds-I've never seen those ducks before, never heard of them, so the photos are fascinating to me. And the egrets-"majestic" comes to mind. Thanks for the photos, hope you have more!

  5. i liked your bird photos and the gaters were ok since they were just photos and i addmitt it was a awsum place but never would i go near it.

  6. Swamp is brimming with life. What a place to visit. I imagine one who lived there, instead of in the city, would have a whole different philosophy of life, and death.

  7. 4th Sister, you're right, I do need to get out more often. I'll have to take my camera to the botanical gardens or one of the old plantation homes before the weather gets too hot.

    Robbin, the pleasure is mine. Half the fun of being in the swamp was knowing I'd come back with something new to bring to this ongoing online party.

    Debi, thanks. About the email--the last one I got from you was 10/8/06, which I answered. Kim has sent two emails to me recently which never arrived in my inbox. I don't know what's up with that, but please try again.

    Janet, I'd never seen the black-bellied whistling ducks either. They're SO pretty. We see little egrets all over the place down here, but not these big ones. Although, come to think of it, I have seen one on the edge of the road in front of the house a couple of times. He probably came from the place where the peacock belongs.

    Patsy, I've thought about driving back to the swamp by myself in the late afternoon, when the light would be best for photos, but I don't have the nerve. It isn't the gators and snakes that worry me; it's the narrow, rutted gravel roads and the chance of running into strange people in that remote area--people like the ones in "Deliverance."

    Annie, your comment about the different philosophy of life and death instantly brought to mind one of my favorite Cajun jokes:

    Boudreaux was out fishing one evening when he spotted a body floating in the bayou. He rowed his pirogue over closer and confirmed what he'd suspected: It was the body of Marie Thibodeaux (wife of his good friend), who'd gone missing the day before.

    Boudreaux rowed downstream to his friend's house to tell him the sad news:

    Boudreaux: Thibodeaux, ol' frien', I got some good news an' some bad news, which you want firs'?

    Thibodeaux: Waaalll, I guess gimme de bad news firs' an' get it over wit'.

    Boudreaux: Man, I'm sorry to tell ya, but I done foun' Marie. She gone, Thibodeaux. She done drownded in de bayou.

    Thibodeaux: Awwww, mais non, my Marie was a good cook an' a good woman, I'm gonna sure miss 'er. Now, what about dat good news?

    Boudreaux: Waaalll, de good news is dat Marie's body? It was covered wit' crabs. We gonna set her out again in de mornin' and you get half de crabs.

  8. Ah, Velvet, should I laugh? It's hard to know.

  9. Well, Annie, I laughed. But I'll admit to having a twisted sense of humor.

  10. Well, you are a swamp rat for sure. It is beautiful but also scarry to me. Sis 3

  11. Loved the photos - the birds are similar to the one we saw at Ding Darling nature preserve on Sanibel. Great place and a little spooky to walk through - no safety of a truck with those gators around! But the birds at Ding were magnificent, like these.

    Thanks for sharing - your photography just keeps getting better and better!

  12. Sister-Three, it was more beautiful than it was scary. Keep in mind I was working with a zoom lens, so I wasn't all that close to the gators.

    Sunflower, I'd forgotten about it, but I remember walking through a nature preserve in the Everglades when we lived in Florida. There was a gigantic gator there, but he was catching treats thrown to him by tourists, which kind diminished the "wildness" factor.

    BD, umm..."few good photos"...umm (scratches head)...umm...thank you? ;-)


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