Denny and Charles’s Museum by Emma Foster

G. Blue Heron on Gator’s back at Gatorland, by Lee

Denny and Charles’s Museum

Emma Foster

Denny the blue heron was the smallest out of all the blue herons that lived in the Florida reserve, but no one ever made fun of him for it because his best friend was the largest alligator in the reserve, Charles. Denny and Charles spent most of their time crossing the various swamps, with Charles slinking through the mud and weeds and Denny sitting on his back.

Usually, whenever Denny and Charles set out together, they would follow the trails marked in the reserve, so that they were always near the banks. The people who visited the reserve enjoyed seeing them wander down the swamp trails, especially since Denny sat on Charles’s back while Charles swam through the weeds.

One day, while Denny and Charles were traveling through the water, Denny spotted something unusual in the water. It was bright red, and it shone brightly when the sun reflected on it. Denny stuck his beak inside it to pick it up. He lifted the can and placed it onto Charles’s back. Denny wasn’t quite sure what it was, and Charles couldn’t see it because it was on his back. Denny decided to keep it.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Raymond Barlow

Farther along down the reserve trail, Denny spotted another interesting object. He wasn’t sure what this was either, but it was bright yellow and small. Denny added it to his growing collection.

Eventually, Denny had several small objects piled on Charles’s back. He placed everything he had found on the bank so Charles could have a look at it. They both thought about what to do with what Denny found. After thinking for a long time, Denny proposed an idea. He thought it would be a great idea to set all of the objects they found in an area where all the other animals in the swamp could see them.

Denny promptly flew off to find a large open area for them to place their things. Charles slowly nudged the objects into his mouth and followed Denny to where he was calling. Charles dumped the objects onto the grass, glad to be of help.

Every day, Denny and Charles added more to their collection. They found two old water bottles, a small pipe, and several pieces of different materials that were several different colors like pink, red, blue, and yellow. Denny kept the can placed in a special spot for everyone to see, since he had found it first.

The birds, insects, and other animals enjoyed seeing all the things Denny and Charles had put out. Some of them thought it was odd that they collected that stuff, since it seemed to serve no purpose.

Gator and Litter @indiatvnews

As summer drew near, it began raining more and more. Most of the animals had a comfortable place to spend every night. Charles was happy to sit in the swamp in the rain, and Denny sat in the trees, keeping a close eye on his collection. However, as he was watching it one evening he saw a little gray mouse pass him nearby. It was so small it could dodge the raindrops, but it still looked very wet and cold. It hid under the leaves in the bushes, but it couldn’t seem to find a warm, dry place for the night. Denny suddenly thought of the things he had found, but he couldn’t think of anything that would make a good house. Then he thought of the can.

Denny called Charles over. He told him about giving the can to the mouse, though he was reluctant to give it away. Charles thought it was a great idea, and he immediately crashed through the bushes to put the can in his mouth. Denny flew after the mouse, told her his name, and explained what they wanted to give her. At that moment, Charles waddled through the bushes and dropped the can beside the mouse. The mouse, Charlotte, was very grateful for what they had done. She rolled the can under the leaves, turned it to the side, and carefully squeezed through the opening to sit down inside.

Mouse in Can (BBC)

Denny and Charles continued growing their collection. The other animals in the reserve enjoyed seeing what they added to the museum, and they sometimes even brought some of their own things that they had found. Charlotte the mouse stayed in her little can house, beside Denny and Charles’s museum, and told them every day how happy she was in her new home.


“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV)

Lee’s Addition:

What an interesting story. Birds riding on gator’s backs isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem.

Thanks, Emma, for another delightful adventure. You continue to find heart-felt stories for us to enjoy. We will be looking forward your next one.

“Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” (Philippians 4:14 NASB)

See more of Emma’s Stories

Backyard Birding – Maybe Part III

Gator and Sandhill Cranes 05-20-20 by Lee

Gator and Sandhill Cranes 05-20-20 by Lee

“Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.” (Proverbs 4:26 NKJV)

In Backyard Birding – Maybe Part I and Part II, I referred to our gator that hangs out at the edge of our backyard. Here is the video I promised.

The two Sandhills had been on our back lanai and we had shooed them off. They went down to the water at the end of our yard and started teasing the gator. They jumped up a few times and just looked at him. Then they flew across to the other bank, and that is where I captured this on video.

[I thought I knew how to kill parts of the sound, but it killed it all. So I left the sound on. We were eating our breakfast when all of this was occurring. I was sitting in my chair filming this.]

From the following articles, it is obvious that Sandhill Cranes are quite common here in central Florida. They are fun to watch, except when the peck on the back sliding door.

Sandhill Cranes ousidet window Coventry by Lee

Sandhill Cranes ousidet window Coventry by Lee

“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)

“Sandhill Cranes mate for life, choosing their partners based on dancing displays. Displaying birds stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air.” [All About Birds – Sand Hill Cranes]

More about Cranes:

Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe Part II

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Our gator adventure has been keeping me from using my bench, but we still have lots of birds to watch. Just from a safer distance. In Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe, I explained why I haven’t used my bench too much yet. The talk of the neighborhood, “our own gator,” brings visitors to the water. As I mentioned before, we don’t get to see it most of the time because of the embankment.

When he [or she] moves more to the middle of the water, then we get to see it. When we came home from church, Sunday (5-17), there he was. We both grabbed our cameras, which we now keep at the table by the door. Here is what I saw:

Dan taking a photo of the gator and me taking of photo of him.

Dan taking a photo of the gator and me taking of photo of him.

Then I zoomed in on what he was taking a photo of:

What Dan Was Photographying by Lee 5-17-20

What Dan Was Photographying by Lee 5-17-20

We still have that Variant House Finch stopping by. He feeds at the feeder up by the door. Much safer there. The sun was shining brightly, and it made him almost glow. Here a few I took a few days ago:

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Also recently, the three species I mentioned in the first post, we spotted though the door on May 16th. Here are a few more closeups:

Great Blue Heron close up

Great Blue Heron close up

“And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:19 KJV) – Don’t Eat List

Great Blue Heron with neck bent in S

Great Blue Heron with neck bent in S – Sandhill Crane in foreground

Great Egret 5-16-20

Great Egret 5-16-20

I know these are not the greatest photos, but I sure do enjoy seeing so many interesting birds to watch, and even the alligator. Stay tuned for a video I shot this morning.

Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Birds of the Bible – Cranes

Wordless Birds

 

Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Recently, we laid a few blocks down in the backyard so that I [we] could use our old bench. My goal was to be able to watch some of the numerous birds that stop or fly by. Needless to say, the bench needs a little TLC [tender love and care] This was taken May 14th.

I grabbed my camera and took a few photos, thinking I’d start a new series called: Backyard Birdwatching. Real original, right?

Great White Egret - First bird spotted from bench 05-14-20

Great White Egret – First bird spotted from bench 05-14-20

Had to wait for him to get in the clear.

Great White Egret finally in the clear 05-14-20

Great White Egret finally in the clear 05-14-20

I took a few photos and then the next day, decided that plan may be put on hold for awhile. Why? Hang on.

On the 16th, I was able to capture three different species through our door. We were having breakfast when they all appeared. A Great Blue Heron and Great Egret by the water’s edge and the two pesky Sandhill Cranes.

Three species from our door 05-16-20

Three species from our door 05-16-20

Why was I shooting through the door instead of from my bench? Well, this dude showed up the 15th.

Alligator Taken from my neighbor's yard. 05-16-20

Alligator Taken from my neighbor’s yard. 05-16-20

This Alligator is at the end of our yard. Because of the incline by the bank, we don’t get to see him often. So, I went to my neighbor’s yard and took this. She was with me, so if I had to waddle away fast, she could help me. Our neighbor, from across the water, told us that he comes and has layed on our bank at about 6 or 7 every morning for that last few days. Yikes!!

Needless to say, I have not been using my bench, yet!!

“Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20 NKJV)

We know that at least two of each kind of birds and creeping things were kept alive in the ark. I wonder if the alligators were on board, or swimming? Never thought about that before. Have you?

More later. We had a great view of this gator and the two Sandhill cranes today. Stay turned!

Whoa!! From My Window

View Though Patio Door

When I showed the first From My Window, you could see this is just a neighborhood with a small retention pond behind our home. Well, the latest photo, taken by Dan, came as a surprise.

While I was finishing up my breakfast, I noticed, what I thought was a crumpled up paper on the other side of the bank. I kept watching as it “floated” toward our side of the pond. As it got closer, I mentioned to Dan that it looked like two eyes. I stopped eating and walked to the door so I could watch closer.

WHOA!!

Finally, my suspicions were verified. A back popped up behind those eyes. AN ALLIGATOR!!!

Alligator in pond between the yards. By Dan

Dan’s camera was handy, but he didn’t have his zoom lens on. So this is the best we could do. Here is the photo after I cropped it.

Alligator in pond between the yards. Zoomed By Dan

Alligator in pond between the yards. Zoomed By Dan

It was not a very large one, maybe four or five feet long. Just a guess. I have been watching for it since Thursday, but so far haven’t seen it again.

We have noticed all the ducks that were around the pond have disappeared. They must have flown off to one of the other ponds in the neighborhood. Playing it safe. I doubt that the gator could have eaten all of them in one day. We saw the ducks on Wednesday.

I did watch an Anhinga swimming with just his head up today. Typical for the Anhingas, but he came out after a while without getting eaten. Plus, a Great Blue Heron safely fished along the bank today. So, maybe Mr. Beedie Eyes [as I have named him] has left.

Stay Tuned!!

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:14-15 NKJV)

“Then he said to them, “The LORD had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you.” (Exodus 10:10 NKJV)

 

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Again He turneth the wilderness into pools of water, and the dry land into water springs.   (Psalm 107:35, Geneva Bible)

Water is a universal magnet for birds and other animals, so “pools” (or “ponds” or “lakes”) attract wildlife.  So having a pond (or a “lake”) in one’s backyard is good for birdwatching — as well as for watching other kinds of wildlife.

Birds-Zim.Golden-Guides-series-1956

JJSJ’s first bird-book (from 2nd grade)

During the latter part of this month, for a couple days (May 20th through 22nd), I once again had the memorable privilege of birdwatching in St. Petersburg, at the hospitable home of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel.    [Regarding this favorite backyard birdwatching site, see “Appreciating White Ibises (and Other Birds in Florida)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/12/06/appreciating-white-ibises-as-well-as-dozens-of-other-birds-in-florida/ .]   On Monday (May 21st), on or near that lacustrine shoreline, in addition to feeding some large turtles and a hungry alligator  (about 4 feet long! — who stayed on the other side of a metal fence), we saw a lot of birds  – osprey (a/k/a “fish hawk”), great blue heron, Louisiana heron (a/k/a “tri-colored heron”), white ibis, wood stork, mallard, Muscovy duck, snowy egret , great white egret, boat-tailed grackles, anhinga (a/k/a “snake-bird”), etc.  –  and we heard the eerie calls of limpkins (a/k/a “crying bird”). Onshore we also saw birds in the trees, including blue jay and some variety of sparrows, as well as frenetic grey squirrels.    [Regarding Florida’s shellfish-snacking limpkins, see Lee Dusing’s “The Disappearing Limpkin”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2017/11/04/the-disappearing-limpkin/ .]

CommonMoorhen-wikipedia-ShantanuKuveskar

COMMON MOORHEN (a/k/a Florida Gallinule, a/k/a Marsh Hen) — photo credit: Shantanu Kuveskar / Wikipedia

In error, then, I thought I saw a Purple Gallinules family, but Bob correctly identified these candy-corn-billed rail-fowl as Common Moorhen (a/k/a “marsh hen” and “Florida gallinule”), and Bob’s bird-book confirmed Bob’s identification.  Meanwhile, at one point, amidst a lot of tossing pieces of bread unto the birds and turtles (and alligator), Marcia tossed some less-than-fresh tuna fish salad upon the shore  –  and the tuna was quickly gobbled up by a Louisiana Heron! (Louisiana herons are birds that I don’t often see – I first saw one at Aransas Bay, in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, on March 11th of AD1996, and I have rarely seen any since then.)  It rained quite a bit, later (on Monday and Tuesday), so I was very glad that we did our backyard birdwatching when we did  — here is a limerick to remember that time by!

Remembering Time (and Critters) at the Shore

Ducks afloat, hawks in the sky

Herons ashore, jays fly by;

Turtles near, some beyond

Gobble bread in the pond;

Busy critters catch my eye!


Happy birdwatching!