I've said it before, birding and biking combine some of my favorite diversionary activities. Diversionary activity is a poor choice of words, better to say that they are recreational. They recreate me. Biking recreates my body, and birding recreates my mind. Communicating recreates my soul I think, especially when I communicate with God.
That makes prayer while biking with a pair of binoculars around my neck and a field guide on my hip dang near the most recreational activity I can have by myself!
February 24th I found myself in such a position, riding the ole steed, praying, and keeping a weather eye out for some little brown jobs along the way. Specie wise, there were a lot of the usual suspects, I only added tree swallow to the list of birds I've seen at Lake Hollingsworth. I'd seen them before but they always managed to stay just far enough out of my field of view to remain unidentifiable. This time they skimmed near the water closer to the shore, and I even got a good look at their metallic green/blue sheeny back.
Kelly had given me the morning off so to speak. She and KT had gone to her mother's house, Kelly's uncle Don had just passed away, and there were a lot of family members in town waiting to make the mournful trip to Naples for the funeral. I was praying a lot that day for my wife's family. Death is never easy.
I pedaled lightly, stopping every now and again to take in the sights and sound, but I found that sometimes there is stealth in a little bit of speed. A chattering Carolina wren stayed put when I zoomed by him. I know this wren, when I am on foot, he hides, and it's a lot harder to spot him. At the lake itself, I spotted a couple, both dressed for the outdoors so to speak, lightweight longsleeve stuff, with brand names like "Columbia" et al. Good stuff. I would find out later they live here now, but they were from up north, he was shooting pictures of birds and everything. I admired his setup, although I find I have trouble remembering what brand it is right now. They walked counterclockwise, while I took my normal clockwise circuit around the lake. I've been seeing a Herring Gull at the boat dock with a gate (if you go to the Lake, it's pretty easy to find) right in front of the synagogue. On this saturday it was missing, but I've seen it since. Just past the Florida Southern College Campus I crossed their path again, and I paused to ask if he was taking any pictures, as if there is anouther reason to wear a weighty camera around your neck. Sometimes, I like asking stupid questions.
They began telling me about a trapped bird.
Quickly I understood what I needed to do, find the bird and release him. The couple told me it seemed like his legs were trapped underwater, and he couldn't get out of the mire. The thought crossed my mind that the bird could be trapped in some fishing line, or discarded cast net. The natural explinations I had were alligator and snappin' turtle related, so I didn't think about them long, especially when I saw what kind of bird struggled in the lake.
A very beautiful tricolored heron stood distressed in the shallows along the shore, near a birdnest box. There was no telling how long the bird had to endure, I could see it's wings drooped down into the water, so I figured it was near exaustion. I set my bike down, emptied my pockets, and waded out into the lake. As I got close to the bird, I could see straight though its nostrils, they were like holes with voices, "don't treatd on me" they said. I took off my shirt and covered its head. Supporting the bird with my left hand and arm, I lifted up the bird, and used my right hand to see what was going on udner the surface so to speak. I held my pocket knife just in case.
Turns out, it was just caught in some weeds, so I freed the bird and brought it back to shore. When I uncovered its eyes, it flew away, somewhat gangly at first, but then remembering how things are put together.
When it flew away I thought:
"It will always be a Louisiana Heron to me..." Climbing back onto my bike, I fielded a couple a pictures for the couple, showing off my eco-studness.
I forgot to get the couple's names
I forgot to get the couple's name.