The reflection of a White Ibis stared back at me from the glass like waters of the marshes as I hid behind a bush trying to stay as camouflaged as possible. Every so often, it would stop its steady paced stroll and look in my direction. It could hear the rustling leaves I brushed up against with every movement. I had to be more cognizant of my surroundings if I wanted to remain unnoticed and I reminded myself to only move a step or two at a time. Slowly, I inched closer until I had it in perfect frame.
The shutter was so loud it was almost deafening. At least in the silence of the wilderness thats how it seemed. Hoping that I wouldn’t disturb the perfect scene in front of me, I continued to inch closer but alas, I was caught. The Ibis flew away, releasing a guttural grunt as it soared over my head. A smile spread across my face as I was confident I had gotten the perfect shot of the moment.
I jumped back in the car, my eyes wide, looking for my next subject. It was January in Florida and Merrit Island Wildlife Refuge was chock full of birds ready to be captured by my lens.
I walked in amazement as the depths of the marsh pushed out any hint of civilization. It seemed as if another wondrous landscape opened up with every turn. Wintering birds had migrated across the continent and joined with local fauna to fill pools as far as the eye could see. Alligators lurked in the depths, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. There seemed to be so much activity around me it was hard to believe any of it was real. I felt like I could wander for days and there would still be more to see.
I escaped onto a trail that seemed as if it was less traveled. Although there wasn’t a crowd per se, there were still a good amount of people and my instincts said the further I could separate myself, the more wondrous the refuge would be. Not much later, I found that I had wandered into a hidden lagoon.
A Roseate Spoonbill walked in the water, seemingly obsessed with its own reflection. I tried to stay hidden as I took my pictures, worried that my presence would disturb it, but soon I realized it was acoustomed to people, or maybe I just had an inviting aura that made it want to stay. I like to think the later.
The more birds I saw enjoying their natural mirrors, the more I thought about Narcissus and his fall into vanity. I immediately felt connected to every living creature as I find myself getting lost in my reflection quite often. For a moment, it seemed as if all of our souls were one in the same, species being not important in our communication. We were all here to enjoy the beauty of nature.
I often find myself thinking about the different levels of consciousness between species. It seems quite arrogant to me that humans believe they are the primary living things with sentience. Spending five minutes around these birds had me convinced that there was more in common between us than different. After all, we all evolved from the same things at one point, even if millennia had separated us since then. Our origins were still connected and that fact can not be escaped.
I ended up spending the entire day getting lost in the park. Each mile I traversed gave me another reason to keep going and before I knew it, time was all but nonexistent.
I often find it funny how relative time is to our enjoyment of the moment. The revolution around the sun can seem as if it takes an instant, only if we are preoccupied with something else. As soon as we focus on it, it can be perceived to last an eternity. Knowing this, I try to take this knowledge and always keep myself occupied. There is always something else to do, always something else to see, and even if enjoyment is not the goal, it tends to find its place within our tasks.
A Kingfisher sat on the edge of a branch as the sun started to fall beneath the horizon. I had a hard time letting myself accept the end of this day. Everything seemed so perfect. I took consolation knowing that this refuge would be here though waiting for me when I found time to return.
Every winter the birds would still migrate and warm weather would make this a perfect place to come for ages. Or would it?
With warming temperatures, how will the traveling birds react? Will they still take the long journey or find the newly warmed northern weather adequate? How in turn would this affect the other animals that depend on the migration, the plants that depend on the birds dropping seeds, the bugs that are eaten as food. As cliche as it sounds, the circle of life depends on the interconnection of its pieces.
I hope it’s not ruined in ten years.
Closest Supercharger Titusville FL 12 mi
3055 Columbia Blvd, Titusville, FL 32780
Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge
1987 Scrub Jay Way #32782, Titusville, FL