Thursday, January 24, 2008
A Flash Of Blue
Last weekend, I took the long way home from St. Augustine. I spent some time at Rodman Dam and lake exploring, and then I headed west into the adjoining Ocala National Forest. The road from the dam was a red dirt track through the woods ... one of many in the forest.
I had no schedule so as long as I was heading west most of the time, I was getting closer to home.
It was a cold, clear, and windy and I was really glad I had stopped in Palatka for a DDoughnuts large Turbo coffee before I got to the forest. I'd stop, get out, suck up all the photographs in an area and then jump back in the warm JEEP for sips of coffee on the way to the next stop.
That coffee and a Ziploc bag of Cheezits (get your own box) would be my total sustenance for the journey.
You don't stop and eat when there's so much to explore and photograph.
This philosophy may be why I am often alone on these adventures.
Before too long the dirt NF road (77) turned to an empty two lane asphalt road running through scrubby oak forest on either side. I was cruising along listening to a Harry Potter book on CD* when I saw a flash of blue in the grass on the side of the road.
I pulled to a stop.
Was that ...?
I put the JEEP in reverse and backed up ... no traffic ... so who cares?
The flash of blue was hopping from the scrubby forest edge to the road shoulder grass, and then back again, over and over.
Yes! A scrub jay!
I parked the JEEP on the shoulder and crept back towards the jay. It spotted me and retreated to a higher perch to check me out. I oozed closer, stopped, oozed a little closer, stopped, oozed ... until I was only a few feet away.
It was cold and windy and he was fluffed up with feathers blowing in the breeze. That famous scrub jay curiosity allowed me to shoot several pics and then he was gone ... back into the dense scrub below.
Scrub jays are a threatened species in Florida ... a remnant from the last ice age (when Florida was very arid) that is trying to hang on. After you leave Florida, you don't find scrub jays again until you are out west. When you read about fire dependent species, think of this beautiful bird. It takes periodic fires to provide the low brushy scrub habitat that this bird absolutely depends on.
They are a rare treat in Florida and this bird alone would have made my day, but there had already been much and there was more to come on this most excellent slow ride home.
For years, I have avoided the Harry Potter series even though my children absolutely devoured them ... over and over again. I was mentioning this to my perky pal Cindy one day a few weeks ago and she let me borrow the audio version of the first book.
Now I am hopelessly addicted.
One by one, she is loaning me each CD book.
I have to think of a thank you gift ... she likes pigs and food ...suggestions are welcome.