Birds of a feather…flock together:) Part 1

I did look up the phrase. The first known written instance of metaphorical use of the flocking behavior of birds is found in the second century BC, where Be Sira uses it in his apocryphal Biblical Book of Ecclesiasticus, written about 180–175 BC. This was translated into Greek sometime after 117 BC (probably), and it is this Greek version that has commonly been used, even in the Septuagint used by diaspora Jews.

The first known use of the idiom in original English writing is 1545, when William Turner used a version of it in his anti-Catholic satire “The Rescuing of the Papist Fox”:

It is easy to know the cawse for as byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together / so the papistes will euer be to gether / that on may euer help another / not only with numbre as sterlynges do when they ar aferde of the hauk / but also to consult & take counsel together how theyr sect myght be best promoted manteyned & set forward.

But this is just about birds;) Ha!

While pursuing the Stilts I happened to step onto what looked like a sand bank, that was not sand , but mud, so what to do, what to do…go to the estuary and wander around in 6″ of water should help clean my shoes off I thought! A flat calm day had still eluded me for Stilt photos. I just love those reflections so I headed across the road, the Stilts hang out in rain water ponds to the North, towards the estuary. I came upon Mr. Vermillion flycatcher, he wasn’t being very cooperative either so I kept wandering towards the water.

I was looking for the American Kestrel pair that made their nests in the palm fronds but the coconut palms had been hacked back so badly, we call them the buzz cut here currently, there was nowhere for them to nest so perhaps they have moved on sadly. I startled a female Pin Tailed duck as I reached the stone retaining wall and she flew off as I waded out in the warm water, just over my ankles. It’s sandy in spots, can be a bit slippery but never deep muck.

A Western Sandpiper ignored my wading about…as did his buddies who were deep in Western Sandpiper conversation;) chatting about the weather no doubt! The Snowy Egret ignored me as well, it was busy hunting for small fish and crabs. Out on the sandbar I spotted a flock of Black Skimmers landing after they did a fly over. Such amazing looking birds with their bright red and black oversized beaks and tremendous underbite! I casually sidled over, not a threat guys, not a threat, let’s just hang out and chat for a bit. They eyed me warily and then decided I wasn’t that scary, strange women with her pants rolled up, dirty shoes and a camera;)

The strange, uneven bill of the skimmer has a purpose: the bird flies low, with the long lower mandible plowing the water, snapping the bill shut when it contacts a fish. Unlike most birds, their eyes have vertical pupils, narrowed to slits to cut the glare of water and white sand. Black Skimmers feed mostly on small fish that live just below surface of water and also eats some small crustaceans. They fish by feel, not sight. How cool is that. They are very odd looking!

Skimmers have a distinctive flight style: usually very low to the water, with long upstrokes but short downstrokes to stay clear of the water. This creates a characteristic bounding or ranging style to the flight. Flocks in flight may turn in unison, with synchronized beats of their long wings. An amazing sight!

The Osprey flew over quite low and spooked the entire flock into flight.

His/her favourite perch is on a telephone pole just North of us, I can catch a glimpse of the landings and wander over under cover of the palms. By now my shoes were looking pretty clean so I shuffled through the weeds and sand and back to the beach. I sat on the retaining wall and watched the tricoloured Heron leaping about gleefully after fish.

The tricolored Heron heron is a mix of blue-gray, lavender, and white. Unlike other dark herons, they have a white belly. The white stripe down the neck is quite distinctive. Tricolored Herons forage for small fish such as topminnows and killifishes in open or semi-open brackish wetlands. They are skilled at stalking, chasing, and standing and waiting to capture small fish. Their foraging style is generally more jittery and active than some other herons, chasing after fish with wings flapping or pirouetting with sharp stops and turns.

♫♪♫ Walk this way…♪♫♪

Such elegant birds, then they do some silly, yet effective movement and you have to smile when they come up with a small fish! Songs sometimes just come to mind as I’m watching theses guys run to and fro…♫♪♫ Walk this way♫♪♫ by Run DMC fits these guys…

♫♪♫ I’m coming out!♫♪♫

For the Snowy Egret Diana Ross’s ♫♪♫ I’m Coming Out ♫♪♫ as it struts about showing those amazing yellow feet!

The Reddish Egrets have to be one of my favourites, so many here! That long shaggy neck of reddish feathers is like a boa as they dance about, using their wings to block the waters glare and confuse small fish with the shadows, which they then snap at and swallow…whole;) They are busy busy birds! Very theatrical! A fairly large, powerfully built but elegant heron. Reddish Egrets have long, sturdy legs, long necks, and thick, dagger like bills. The feathers of the head and neck are often extended, giving a shaggy appearance. I hear Bach-Toccata and fugue in D minor! Ha!

The American Brown Pelicans…well…they are the diving experts here it seems, they sure know how to make a splash! They are a cross between comical and elegant, that huge bill sweeping up anything that falls into it! Squadrons glide above the surf, rising and falling with the graceful movement of the of the breaking waves. During a dive, the Brown Pelican tucks its head and rotates its body to the left. This maneuver is probably to cushion the trachea and esophagus, which are found on the right side of the neck, from the impact. Maybe the Who, Drowned is a good song for them! Ha!

American Brown Pelican diving

So much life here in these waters. And we haven’t even gotten to the pokey beach birds yet, Curlews, Willets, Whimbrels! Then there are the hummingbirds and LBB’s! Stay tuned! Ha!

All hail the hummingbirds!

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