We were surprised to find that most of the birds were more closely observable from the drive and not from our canoe. We also spent (wasted) some time trying to find an area to launch the canoe with enough water to paddle in as it was low tide.
At mid-day we tucked into a mangrove and marsh area on the far side of the reserve to eat a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh Florida fruit. We were deep in conversation about the areas of the mangrove that had been destroyed by a hurricane years earlier and the second hit of cold weather that had caused die-back on the trees last month. I was just about to expound on some other tidbit from my wisdom when I looked up at something that moved at the front of the canoe. I stopped talking with my mouthful of sandwich and froze in place.
After a second, I quietly and stealthily grabbed my camera which I had placed at my feet and with the telephoto still on quickly took the overexposed photo above. See that little bird in the center of the V of the wood branches? I was afraid he had not noticed us and would quickly retreat when discovering how close he was to the bow of the canoe! But he just kept on perusing the mud flats and as I studied him he caught a little 2-inch fish and gulped it down while watching us with one eye! This was quite a surprise as my husband and I had not seen a single fish of that size the whole lunch hour while we watched shallow water activity from the canoe.
Here he is poking closer along the side of the boat and sneaking under mangrove roots. He is a juvenile heron.
Here is an even better photo of the entire little guy who was completely unconcerned (well he at least bluffed that) about our proximity.
Such a little charmer and so glad he shared his lunch time with us! I feel privileged when they trust us to be so close. (Do click on the last photo for a kiss.)