Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Aug. 30, 2006)
The drunken dancer
It seems we always want what we cant have or at the very least believe that
the prize is beyond our grasp.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|Known as the drunken
dancer, the reddish egret spreads its wings open, then sprints
back and forth in shallow water to feed. The spread open wings block
out light reflections upon the water improving the egrets view
for opportune fishing.
My early years were spent exploring interesting nooks and crannies upon the
southern range of the Appalachian Mountains. The snake-like path of the Tennessee
River bore its way in between the soft rolling, mountain peaks. This habitat was as
if a terrarium, complete within itself.
The rain clouds arose in the afternoons lumbering up the sides of these great
mountains. Eventually the struggle against the mountains was too much, the weight
of the water too heavy, and the distance too great. The mountains won triggering
the clouds to spill their cargo down the sides, as if being captured by some secret
Springs burst forth nurturing fern beds, conifers, hardwoods and falling glens,
eventually traveling down again to feed the original source, the rivers. As the
warmth of the next day wore on, the rivers steamed with mist that gathered once
more into the fertile air forming more clouds and other storms were born.
To a young girl in awe of this place, there seemed no escape. All I knew was
within this world. Although vacations led to exotic locations, we always returned
back to the cradle of the mountains
the door closed behind.
I learned where the robins nested, where the rattlesnakes sunned themselves, where
the chipmunks stashed food for winter, where the bobcat raised her kits, the trail
of the deer, where the wild asparagus grew, walnuts, blackberries, and the
locations of the water bird nests along the Tennessee River.
Over time these faces became familiar within a worn edition of Roger Tory
Petersons Field Guide to Eastern Birds that my mother had
purchased for me at a local flea market.
As I learned about the faces around me, I also began to yearn to know the faces of
the birds I had not seen before except on the pages of this little book. This was
the beginning of my lifes adventure. This book became the fertile ground that
nurtured the seed of exploration outside the boundaries of my closed world. It was
through those eyes of inquiry that a young girl realized there was another world
with infinite possibilities.
In my travels and explorations I have encountered many wonderful experiences and
remain upon that early path of discovery. Television and video games hold no
attraction. Beyond every turn is something new and exciting. Perhaps we cant
always possess what we want, but with a little prescience we may be able to reach
beyond our grasp ... back to nature.
One face upon the pages of my Petersons Eastern Field Guide is
the reddish egret, uncommon along coastal tidal flats, salt marshes, shores and
lagoons from the Gulf States to Mexico. The reddish egret has two color phases
which can be quite confusing to the novice bird watcher.
In one phase the plumage of the reddish egrets body is a bluish gray; the
neck and head is covered in rusty feathers. These feathers are shaggy. The white
morph reddish egret is completely white. You can identify this bird from other
egrets by the blue legs and the pink bill that is black tipped. The other major
identification is based on behavior.
The reddish egret is known as the drunken dancer. The reddish egret
spreads its wings wide open then sprints, lurches and rushes awkwardly back and
forth in shallow water while feeding. Although it may appear this bird has no
sense, the spread open wings actually block out light reflections upon the water
for a better view and to lure fish into this bird-made shade. Id say this is
a pretty smart fishing technique.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.