A morning walk through the summertime FL wetlands can be a sweaty miserable business. Sometimes, tromping through quiet cattails and muggy clouds of buzzing gnats is exactly how it sounds, miserable. I know, I know, a walk in the woods should be enough to satisfy, thus any rare fauna are an added bonus. Reality, however, is not always torn from the pages of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. But it is that sweaty misery, that brings magic.
Days where Sandhill Cranes can be seen gracefully gliding across the ground on long legs while Least Bitterns peer out from between stalks of wetland reeds, searching for quarry.
Days where scraggy bushes dot the edges of the still waters; providing cover for darting shrikes, who hide their gruesome nature behind a guise of size and charm.
Days where slender stilts can be seen, wading delicately through the water, lazily combing for morning meals.
Days where herons wait patiently under the shade, eyeing shadows beneath the murky surface.
And sometimes, days where soft breezes, accented by the gentle glow of the eastern sun, carry soft melodies in from across the water.
With long pink legs for roosting, and strikingly colored bills, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks can be seen moving through the wetscape. Their crooning notes, sonorous as any spring warbler, carry the wetland choir.
The melodies wash over you, removing all perception of heat, sweat, and grime.
And even as you leave the wild places and seasons give way to colder months, you will smile; winter reveries of summertime FL will gush with sound, with song. Whistlers will warm you long after the last coals go grey, and the dregs of some hot brew have disappeared. They will return again, come warmer days, to open you once more to the magic of summertime FL.
To all those sweaty miserable days,
that bring us happy surprises.
(All images included in this and other entries on this site were taken by and belong to me)
All Images © 2013 Brian Lang
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