Thank goodness for genes! When we learned of the impending birth of our first child, we wondered all the things prospective parents wonder about. Will it be a boy or girl? What color hair? Eyes? What will he or she be when they grow up? Can we be good parents? (Okay, I’m the only one who wondered that one. My wife never had a doubt…still doesn’t!)
We were eventually blessed with two healthy children who have grown up to be all we could have ever prayed and hoped they would. They now have children of their own and it has been amazing to observe how each has developed. Mixing of genes has produced some mighty beautiful grandchildren who are intelligent and loving. (No, I’m not bragging, it’s true!) One of the traits I feel they inherited from my wife is a power of observation. She is one of those rare individuals that has an innate ability to see your soul. Our grandkids can give you “that look” which says “I know what you’re thinking and I know how to get exactly what I want from you”. Hopefully, they will be able to hone that talent to keep others, as well as themselves, honest as they travel through life.
I was thinking about genes the other day while standing in waist-high wet grass trying to focus the camera lens on a fast-moving dragonfly. Yes, of course I was birding. Sometimes though, one just becomes overwhelmed with the plethora of life all around. Standing in one spot, I could see dozens of spider webs spun during the night, each containing a multitude of small insects trapped for hungry spider families to enjoy. Dragonflies, moths, butterflies, katydids and unknown life forms seemed to be everywhere. This doesn’t even include the “ordinary” flies, mosquitoes, ants and microscopic forms of life all within arm’s-length. Within each of these species there is an incredible diversity. How did genes play a part in creating such similar, yet different individuals?
I love birding precisely because it takes me into a world of vast possibilities. Hopefully, I’ll never stop being curious about that world.
On this day, we were exploring Hardee Lakes Park, hoping to find a few migratory birds. We found a few, but most birds remained beyond the reach of my camera. So our photographs include a preponderance of C.O.T.B. (Critters Other Than Birds).
We ended the morning with 55 species, including Forster’s Terns, Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, four species of woodpecker, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatchatchers, Ovenbirds, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Warblers, Pine Warblers, Black and White Warblers, Northern Parulas, a female American Redstart and a female Indigo Bunting. A very satisfying outing!
Here is a safety tip: When trying to get a better angle from which to take a photograph, do not use a fire ant mound to stand on for greater elevation. The mound is not solid and will sink under your weight. Oh, and it makes the local residents within the mound quite peeved. Although, as a result, I may have invented several new dance moves.
We hope you enjoy a few images of our morning.
(Identifying insects is very challenging for me so if anyone can provide corrections I would really appreciate it!)
The next time you find yourself outside, try standing still for a few minutes and observe the amount of life all around. Prepare to be amazed!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!