Published: March 12th 2009January 18th 2009
With absolute stillness, the creature sat with a powerful gaze that completely neutralized the glare and reflections on the surface of the water. If it were not for the beautiful but subdued colors in its plumage, it would have been very difficult to differentiate its shape against the thick vegetation surrounding it.
Several minutes passed by, accentuating the creature's almost inanimated stance. Sitting behind my camera, I was challenged to imitate the stillness in anticipation of what might happen next, but my gene make up was not up to par with my subject's. After so many generations of human reliance on technology and a very specialized society for the provision of sustenance, most humans can't stalk prey the way that animal predators can.
More minutes went by slowly until all of a sudden, in an explosive flash, the bird's legs and long neck helped transform the animal into a thrusting arrow that in a fraction of a second was able to grab its prey with perfect accuracy from just under the waterline. The small fish did not have a chance!
Technology allowed me to capture a burst of shots as soon as I realized that the bird was
springing the trap, but technology alone was not enough to allow me to capture that perfect shot. A random variable would enter the picture in the form of a large twig disturbed by the bird's flash reaction; the twig ended up positioned exactly between my camera and the bird's head, tricking the camera's auto-focus mechanism into believing that the twig was the center of interest (instead of the bird and its catch in the background).
After enjoying its meal, the bird became a statue again but I did not have the patience to emulate its stillness one more time. After all, my visit to the Everglades National Park had been a very last minute opportunity that I could only enjoy for a precious few hours. I needed to keep moving to try to see as much as possible of this primordial oasis of nature so close to relentless human sprawl.
The very existence of the Everglades to this day is mostly due to the vision and persistence of a single person, Marjory Stoneman Douglas
, who battled the establishment and powerful developers wanting to drain the water out of this jewel of nature.
Even the US Government's Corps
of Engineers teamed with land developers who wanted to build yet more human enclaves without regard to the ill effect that such development would have on anything else alive and on weather patterns that are kept in balance by this ecosystem.
And the Everglades are teaming with life. No matter what little corner I selected to quietly perch myself and my camera, wildlife would wander by me in just a few minutes. I could spend months in this place and still see only a small part of it.
I allocated my time in three main locations: Royal Palm, Pa-hay-okee, and a little-known place by a small lake that offered an unobstructed view of its west shoreline over the surface of the water for an incredible view of the sunset. Because I had a dinner commitment in the city of Sunrise early that evening, I was really pushing my luck by staying by this lake beyond 5:30 PM.
But the view before me was too magnificent! I could not help but enjoy it and capture it with my camera until the sun was completely under the horizon. A few minutes after 6:00 PM I started my trek north,
leaving behind this magnificent natural paradise.
There are more photos below