DIANA'S BLOG




Connoisseur of Chaos and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Just a little Sunday contemplation…

The poet Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1879. One of my favorite poems is his “Connoisseur of Chaos” written in 1942. Another poem of his I admire greatly is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” I sometimes try to compare the two poems but inevitably end up integrating one stanza from each poem into the other. Here is third stanza of “Connoisseur of Chaos” and the fifth stanza of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

III
“After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops’ books
Resolved the world. We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so . And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.”

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Male Red-winged Blackbird at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

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Green Heron Fishing


Sunrise over swamp and fog at Babcock Wildlife Management Area near Punta Gorda, Florida

I spent a wonderfully peaceful hour yesterday morning watching this Green heron as it fished at a marsh in Babcock Wildlife Management Area. After living in New York City for thirty eight years I can’t seem to get enough of the peace and quiet this part of Southwest Florida provides. I rise early and drive the short distance to the Wildlife Management Area then catch the sunrise and head out to the ponds and marsh where something new awaits me each morning. All around me I hear the two Belted Kingfishers chirping as they circle and dive for fish. I am astonished each time I hear the actual wings of the Sandhill Cranes as they fly directly over me. Along comes a cormorant and its wings also make the soft, almost whispering sound above my head. I watch the little Green heron make several catches of small fish and see it lurch percariously off its perch to dip its head into the waters below. He provides me with a perfect reflection in the blue water. So I sit and wait and adjust to his rhythm and the world slows down to a calm, placid pace (except, of course, for the fish).


Green heron getting ready to strike at a fish at Babcock Wildlife Management Area near Punta Gorda, Florida


Green heron catching a fish with reflection at Babcock Wildlife Management Area near Punta Gorda, Florida

All of a sudden the pattern changes and instead of leaning forward into the water for his catch the Green heron takes a tremendous dive into the water. I shoot several shots and am rewarded with this shot as he emerges from the water with his biggest catch of the day. He lands back on his perch and proceeds to enjoy his meal. What a wonderful moment to share with him completely alone surrounded only by birds and the breeze through the slash pine trees.


Green heron taking off from the water after catching a fish at Babcock Wildlife Management Area near Punta Gorda, Florida

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Big Cypress National Preserve, Southwest Florida


Dwarf Cypress trees along County Road 94 near Ochopee, Florida, in Big Cypress National Preserve

I got up very early and drove south to Big Cypress National Preserve. There is a county road (County Road 94) which runs south of Highway 41 and has some amazing scenery along with lots of birds. Arriving in the early morning hours, I was able to see the beautiful dwarf cypress trees and swamp area along this road. County Road 94 runs for about 16 miles and loops back to Highway 41 near Sharp Valley and the Everglades National Park. I was lucky to have gorgeous puffy clouds and sunny weather on the morning I drove down. I wanted to shoot some landscape shots of the cypress trees and swamp along with some birds. All of these photographs were shot with my new Nikon Z7 mirrorless full frame camera. I love that this camera has 46 megapixels of resolution and can go from being an excellent landscape camera to a wildlife and bird photography camera quite easily.


Dwarf Cypress trees in swamp along County Road 94 near Ochopee, Florida, in Big Cypress National Preserve


Endangered Liguus tree snail (Liguus fasciatus) on tree in Tree Snail Hammock Nature Trail at Big Cypress National Preserve, South Florida

I have hiked this short trail several times before but this time I found that many trees had been damaged by the last hurricane and there were not as many snails as I had seen on previous trips. I will have to keep an eye on this trail and see if this is a trend or if it is hopefully an anomaly because of the hurricane. The tree snails I was able to find this time did not seem as colorful or lively as the ones I had seen before. Still, I was glad to find a few even if they were not in the most picturesque locations.


Dwarf Cypress trees along County Road 94 near Ochopee, Florida, in Big Cypress National Preserve


Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) walking on lily pads at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida, Shark River Slough

I love watching the Purple Gallinules hop from lily pad to lily pad searching for food. They have rather large yellow feet which seem in fact to be too large for the rest of their body. I love the mix of blue and green colors along with the color of the water and water lilies. I watched this guy hop around for quite some time.


Male Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) on perch at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida, Shark River Slough


Female Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida, Shark River Slough


Female Anhinga on perch at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida, Shark River Slough


Male Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) in breeding plumage at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida, Shark River Slough

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