Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter "Down Here"

While the winter has worn on and on "up there" (where we used to live), it is no wonder the visitors and the traffic in Palm Beach County has grown this year.  I still miss aspects of our former Connecticut winters.  Being younger helped and I found much of it to be a pleasant challenge, splitting wood for our wood burning stove, even shoveling the snow, and getting to work on the ice-slicked roads.  The one thing I do not miss is getting up on a ladder to pour boiling water into our gutters and downspouts to keep them clear of ice as snow was melting on the roof during the day and refreezing at night. I remember one very bad winter storm in the 1970's when Connecticut closed all roads and threatened to arrest any driver other than essential health and official personnel.  The only problem is I heard the announcement while I was sitting at my desk listening to a portable radio; I had already decided to close the office but I had to find my way home without getting arrested!  (I wasn't.)

But that seems like another lifetime ago.  Now, instead, friends and family come here to visit.  No wonder.  And when they do, our boat and the waters of Lake Worth and Peanut Island at the Palm Beach inlet are inviting.  A couple of days ago Jon and Anna were visiting.  Here's a photo of Ann (wearing my cowboy hat) and Anna as we departed for the Tiki Waterfront Sea Grille at The Riviera Beach Marina. While we having lunch there, a fishing boat was tossing unused chum into the water attracting some powerful, predatory fish known as "jacks" and pelicans as well.  I thought this very brief video of a pelican balancing itself on the power cord of the fishing boat, the jacks menacingly swimming beneath, to be worthy of a YouTube posting.  Pelicans are among my favorite birds, funny to look at, but graceful when they glide only inches above the water.  They don't have an easy time coexisting with commercial fisherman (competition) or with recreational fisherman as pelicans sometimes get snagged by their hooks.  But this pelican doesn't look like it has a care in the world.

It was nice to have Jon run the boat as it freed me to film a little of the trip home, running north in the ICW part of Lake Worth with Singer Island and some of Munyon Island on our starboard side.  Having spent most of my life in the northeast gives me a special appreciation of these moments. Here's hoping for some warmer weather for our friends and family back where we used to call home!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Florida Xmas Redux in Pix

Normally this is a pretty busy time for us, sons Jon and/or Chris visiting, but not this year, they having other commitments.  So recently Ann and I took our boat up the Intracoastal, first to the Waterway Cafe where we tied up for dinner as the sun was setting and, then, after dark, further up the Intracoastal to view the Christmas lights such as the "modest" display below.

Earlier in the month we went to a party to view the Palm Beach Boat parade, this very brief video showing those Florida Christmas festivities.

Or how about an Osprey sitting high up a nearby tree positioned like an angel on a Christmas tree? 

Amazing, this is our 14th Christmas in Florida -- our first one pictured here.  Seems like yesterday.

As much as Christmases here have their own kind of high spirits, those we've left behind in Connecticut were special.  We were younger, our sons were growing, eagerly anticipating Christmas morning.  Those holidays were particularly unforgettable when it snowed, and we had the wood burning stove going, the crackling of the wood filling our family room with the definitive word that winter had arrived.  Shoveling the snow and walking the road when it was a winter wonderland are moments of the past which spring to mind, even while it is 80 degrees here.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is I'll Be Home for Christmas which was first released as a V-disk for our servicemen during WW II.  Here is my brief rendition in memory of my Dad who was serving when this was released, and those special years in Connecticut. 

And to all, a Happy and Healthy Holiday!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Infrastructure and Politics Redux

Inevitably, this headline  -- Probe begins after Conn. commuter trains crash -- will lead to the conclusion what any rider of the New Haven Railroad could tell you:  the tracks are in need of serious upgrade.  Yet, investment in the railroad's infrastructure is one of those things that is constantly postponed -- until a tragedy occurs, and this could have been a much more serious accident with loss of life in addition to the injuries.  But making this expenditure is a political hot potato, no one wants to take on.  Again, until.....
Fact of the matter, not only do the tracks need upgrading, the entire system -- which to a degree is still mired in its late 19th century beginnings -- needs to be addressed, bringing public transportation for the heavily populated northeast corridor into the 21st century.  We are a third world country when it comes to such transportation -- ask anyone from China or Japan who visits and rides those rails.  And, with easy credit and the need for jobs, it would seem to be a no brainer to make this investment, but do we have the vision and determination?

Meanwhile, on the Florida political front, an apparent self-serving decision by Governor Rick Scott: to deny the ability to build a warehouse in the State as it would appear that he (the Governor) is supporting an Internet sales tax and he wants to be perceived as being against tax increases. Consequently, the Governor has given tacit approval of the commonplace practice of avoiding the payment of "use tax" on such purchases, a law already on the books.  In rejecting Amazon's application for a warehouse in the State, he is also foregoing more than a thousand new jobs, an initiative that was the centerpiece of his election campaign.  No surprise, he is up for reelection next year, and being perceived as a champion of tax avoidance now seems preferable to job creation.

And speaking of things that never seem to change, the Mourning Doves (or their descendants) that have made their nest year in and year out underneath our roof eaves have two new chicks and here mommy is feeding one of them. They are messy nest makers and it is amazing they don't all fall out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pelican on a Piling

It might be the silliest and saddest looking bird we regularly see in South Florida, seen resting here on a piling of our dock this morning, but the Pelican has a certain beauty, especially when it cruises only feet above the water, suddenly climbs and then dives into the water, tucking its wings at the last moment to turn its inelegant body almost into an arrow, taking a fish into its beak.

Friday, March 7, 2008

For the Birds

I guess I am, although ornithology is not my area of expertise. But Florida, where we now live, is also home to a wonderful variety of birds. Our house is situated on a long, broad waterway.Pelicans swoop down along the waterway, and a variety of birds regularly visit the pilings at our dock, including a young eagle, an occasional ibis or blue heron and the ubiquitous seagull.

But my favorite-feathered visitor is the annual arrival of a pair of Mourning Doves. They found our Mediterranean style roof, with exposed rafters attached to the overhanging eaves, an ideal spot to build a nest. We came across their first nest several years ago right over our front door so during the nesting period we could not use the door without disturbing them, and, of course, their droppings discouraged using that entrance as well.

So while we were too late to dissuade them from situating the nest over our front door, I looked into “bird-blocking” products to discourage such future activity and ordered something that was “guaranteed” to work, without injuring the bird. What arrived was something that looked like a small plastic barbed wire (without the barbs, though), which I could not bring myself to install. Instead, I resolved (for the following year, if the doves returned) to find a way to “invite” them to move down a few feet to another part of the ledge.

Sure enough, the next spring they arrived (whether they were the same pair or the prior year’s nestlings is unknown) and I placed a broom on the ledge over the front door. So they reconnoitered another part of the ledge and began to build their nest there.

As I had removed their old nest, and was now witness to their pathetic efforts to build a new one (doves are notoriously inept nest builders I learned), guilt and empathy drove me into their employ, gathering little twigs, laying them on the ground near the nest, to expedite the process. I smiled at this prospect as only a few years before I was CEO of an international publishing company, with hundreds of employees, and I now toil for a couple of birds who do not seem to have the foggiest idea how to build a secure nest.

My doves seemed to be equally perplexed by the actions of this interloper but I suppose they sized me up as not being a threat, and ultimately accepted me as part of the “team” using most of the twigs I gathered.

They are funny but beautiful birds with their soft cooing sounds. They walk around in our courtyard, seemingly in random patterns, blinking their eyes, suddenly flying off to wherever they fly off to. Before they lay their eggs, they do not inhabit the nest, leaving after their day’s work and returning with the morning sun to continue construction. Once the eggs are laid one is always there.

In a few weeks the chicks are born and the parents seem to “dare” them to fly, leaving them alone in the nest, but strutting teasingly in their view on the roof or on the wall that surround our home’s courtyard. Last year, one chick effortlessly flew to join the parent on the roof, but the other remained in the nest, alone for days. Clearly, the remaining chick was terrified, walking around the rafters, occasionally flexing his wings, but returning to the nest until the following day. I found myself checking out the situation daily, hoping that I would not be left with more responsibility – after all, helping to build the nest is enough! But finally, off he went.

This entry announces the nesting pair’s arrival yesterday. Unfortunately, while the old nest survived the last two seasons, I had to take it down to clean the house and repaint that area. Luckily, they picked the same spot, so no broom redirection is necessary. But, enough writing, time has come to gather some twigs.