Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yoga Vulture

Remember the black vultures of two posts ago---the ones with the vast white-tipped wingspan, ugly gray heads, and hooked beaks?  An encounter I had with one of them told me that, while they are a common sight over the Savannah marsh, one should never forget they are there.

Every morning during my week in Savannah I walked out the long boardwalk across the marsh to the small solid island the locals call the "Hammock," and then further out another long boardwalk to an isolated fishing dock over a deeper water marsh---part of the Savannah River---there to practice an early morning yoga routine to the rising sun---to breathe the breath of the universe in and out again.  Aaaahhhhh!

On the last two mornings, two of those black vultures that are always soaring over the marsh began circling overhead.  They looked for all the world like they were investigating my yoga poses---or checking to see if there might be any carrion involved.  And on the last day, I opened my eyes to become aware that one of them was circling  low and slow and close enough to alarm me out of relaxation pose into an upright position with much flailing of arms and waving of yoga mat.  

At the time it didn't seem an unnecessary precaution against the possibility that he thought I was dead meat.  In hindsight, I'm glad no one was around to see a crazy woman on a fishing dock in some sort of mysterious communication with the universe. Thankfully he lost interest, and flapped a couple of slow rattling flaps to move on.  dkm

Toward the "Hammock"
Entering the Hammock
On the Hammock
Beyond the Hammock
The distant dock
Yoga Vulture after he moved on

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hanky Panky in the Pines

(Journal entry of 6-7-11 / not posted on blog until after returning home)

I'm pretty sure I've just been privy to the mating rituals of a pair of boat-tailed grackles, though I'm not certain of that ID.  Long lean bluish blackish birds seen often over the Savannah marsh.  Too delicate and iridescent for crows, too large for black birds.   Noisy birds.  Not as cacophonous as crows or jays, but noisy nonetheless.

Early this morning a pair lit on the way-out fishing dock where I was sitting.  Was it a game of he said, she said?  Did he hope to make a day of it?  Much ducking and bowing and stretching of necks.  Their attentions seemed totally tuned to each other until I got too close for their comfort and they took off.  Not light enough yet for clear photos.

 Just now, late on the afternoon of the same day,  high above me in a pine tree off the deck of the house where I'm retreating---omg---such a racket and a flapping and a fluttering and a yippety yippety cluck cluck cluck clucking they made.  They were behind a large clump of needles that my binocular view couldn't penetrate, but judging from the exceptional wing activity around the periphery of the needles, and from the length of time they were at it, I'm guessing he was penetrating just fine.  A long but successful day in grackle world. dkm

Friday, June 17, 2011

Over Breakfast . . .

Six black buzzards roosting . . . waking up . . . hunting breakfast . . . ?  Five in one tall tree that rises above the brush on the opposite side of the Savannah marsh.  One on a dead tree trunk that shows up stark and white against the sky in the slant morning sun.  To the naked eye they look like odd black bulbous growths in the trees.  All are too far away for my camera, but visible through binoculars.  Their legs look like bare chicken bones against their black bellies.  Where are their heads?

Every now and again, one of these scary looking birds changes branches, which is what first attracted my attention.  Their wingspan is so wide they have to fly out of the tree and back in again just to move up a notch.   A loud rattle reaches across the quiet of the marsh with each re-entry.   In roosting position, and from this distance,  their wingtips and featherless white legs against black bodies and pale sky are their most noticeable features.

Now I see their heads are plain gray---not as shockingly ugly as the turkey vultures in Patricia Lichen's recent post, but ugly enough.  That's not a fair introduction to Ms. Lichen's great blog, though.  It's well worth your time for the environmental information, for Monday's nature quote, and for a chance to engage your mind and hand at creating your own haiku every Friday.

My six buzzards are actually American Black Vultures, the ID books tell me.   They have a funny way of squatting on their roosting boughs with their heads buried in their breast or wing feathers, a stance that makes them appear headless.   I wonder if their heads get cold without feathers.

Something in the marsh grass has attracted the lot of them.  Occasionally one or the other rattles down and disappears in the grass for some seconds.  Dead breakfast?  Perhaps it's no less revolting than our bacon.  dkm

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Over Morning Coffee . . .

I've moved on to third week of self-imposed writing retreat, this time alone in a house in Savannah, Georgia, overlooking a vast marsh that extends out to the Savannah River.  Thanks to good friends, Paul and Carla, for the loan of the house. Now blogging after the fact from notes taken while there. No internet, except at nearby coffee shop, but I didn't go to Savannah to blog.  Went there to work on my manuscript---and did---completed new drafts of six more chapters---most productive week yet---yay!  

Six whole days of silence and solitude.  In the words of Virginia Woolf, six "pure and rounded pearls."   I slept, ate, breathed, and lived in my story.  A few words exchanged with the grocery clerk, with a fisherman on the boardwalk, and two short trips to the coffee shop to check e-mail.  Little other communication.  No radio except in my head, no news except for my daily phone call with dear and supportive husband Moe, no music but birdsong, no TV or movies.  Only walking, yoga, meditating, thinking, and writing.  Mmmmm.  Memorable.  dkm

Monday, June 13, 2011

Zen House of Sarah

With her new lease on life after two major neuro-surgeries last year to remove a benign but paralyzing tumor from her spine, daughter Sarah has created a sanctuary of quietude for herself and her beautiful family in their humble corner of the world.  Two weeks after my visit, I'm still infused with the sense of calm there received.  Being off the technology grid in the presence of the happiness of Sarah and Thad's young family was indeed enriching to the soul.  Here are a few more shots of my Ft. Lauderdale visit with Sarah, Thaddeus, Makayla, & Nickolas,  before I move on.


Bye bye, Sarah and Thad, Mak and Nick, and thanks for another week of zen and productive writing!  Omi (aka dkm)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Urban Ibis

A white ibis on the RR tracks is something one would never see in Atlanta, and I was surprised to see it in Ft Lauderdale, on the short walk to my grandson's pre-school.  My guess is this ibis and his species-mates are none too happy about having their habitat paved over by a city, however well they've adapted. Have to wonder what they think railroad tracks are.

If this is not an ibis, I hope someone out there will correct me.  Andrew?  Mary?  Lisa? Click on the photo to see its long bill more closely

I and my point-and-shoot digital camera found tons of new and noteworthy sights on our daily walk during the week I was visiting in Ft. Lauderdale, but not as many as Nick did. If it's small and it's a bug, he's interested.  Maybe because he's so much closer to the ground than the rest of us, like the ibis.  Have to wonder what Nick is thinking, too.  

I can imagine the author of Slugyard, a great nature blog I read out of the Pacific Northwest, might have had the same fascination for bugs as a child.  As for Nick, looks like he could have a Slugyard of Ft. Lauderdale blog in his future.  I'd certainly encourage it.  dkm