Friday, April 12, 2013

Grocery bag birding boots

Our granddaughter Graciela has contributed to my blog in the past, but this week I am letting her take over the whole thing. She wrote it the day after her ninth birthday.

Early this morning when it was still dark my Grandfather said "I'm going out on a bird hike." I asked him if I could come along. He said to make sure with my parents first. I had to knock twice on their door to get their permission. Then I headed to my room to get dressed. My sister Carina and I shared a bedroom while visiting my Grandparents during our Easter break. We live in Illinois.

Gramps was planning to walk all the way over to the heron nests but he looked at the sky and said it looks like it's going to rain. He checked the radar and said we could take his car to a place close to the heron nests. I asked Grandma if I could use her binoculars to see the herons, and she said ok. Gramps helped me to put them on the way Grandma wears them.

It had rained all night and Gramps thought it would be muddy, so he brought grocery bags for Cari and me to use as boots so we would not ruin our new tennis shoes. We got there and Grandpa was right. It was muddy all right.  I am in the teal jacket and my sister is in the pink jacket.
Nietas bird-watching 20130406
Grandpa took this video of the herons just a couple of days before we arrived.
We got to the place where the herons were nesting and at first I couldn't see any. Gramps helped me find the first one. It was like a little gray dot in the green tree. When we got closer we saw three more. This one was higher up in the tree.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 2-20130406
Almost immediately we saw a nest with a father bird in it. You can tell by the red legs. 
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male at nest 9HT 20130406
It was a very pretty Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Looking through the binoculars his head looked like a gold crown like he was king of the birds.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male near nest 9-5 non-HT 20130406
We walked a little ways farther and Gramps said there was another nest. We found three in all.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nest 9HT 20130406
We walked down farther and saw a female night heron standing up and in the background saw a male sitting down. Gramps said it was the father sitting on the eggs with the female standing guard.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron pair incubating nest 13-5 non-HT20130406
One heron didn't have a crown and I didn't know what it was at first. It was a young night heron from last year. Amazing! This one did not have bright red eyes like the adult. 
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 20130406
As I walked along ahead of my Grandfather and my sister I saw something run toward me and then stand very still. I realized it was a deer. "Grandpa, Grandpa, come here. I think I see a deer!" They quickly came and Grandpa thought I was just imagining. Then he saw it WAS a deer. As the deer started running away he quickly took pictures. After it was out of sight he looked at the pictures and saw that it was a baby with spots. As we walked back to the car he said "It was the first one I have seen at this spot."
White-tailed Deer fawn fleeing 20130406
We stopped at the soccer park so that we could use the bathroom. We then walked along the little boardwalk that was there. We saw a few signs and the first one was about the poisonous Cottonmouth snake that can look like a non-poisonous water snake. It also said that when it throws up its head the throat is white, which makes it look like it has cotton on it. Gramps said the white is a warning to stay away.
Nietas at W Pines Soccer Preserve 2-20130406
Then we went to the eagle nest and it was empty. We didn't see the baby eagle or the parents at all because they were teaching the baby how to fly and hunt. Gramps snapped a few pictures anyway.
Bald Eagle nest empty 20130406
Then our last stop was Chapel Trail. We heard a Cardinal singing.
Northern Cardinal 20130406
As we headed along the boardwalk there was a turn, and then I saw a Mourning Dove. Cari said "Where? I can't see it!" So I helped her find it and she said "Oh now I can!"
Mourning Dove 20130406
Farther along the boardwalk we saw a Wood Stork that we had seen earlier from far away. Grandpa said "Look at it put up its wing. It's making shade to attract fish so it can eat them."
Wood Stork 20130406
Two more joined in. One had feathers on its head, the other was bald. The one with feathers was just a baby and the other was a parent. They joined the other Wood Stork to feed.
Wood Stork chick with adult 20130406
The young stork wanted to be fed. He headed over to the Wood Stork that was already there and started pecking at her. The older stork flapped her wings to say "Get your own food!"
Wood Stork chick begging from adult 20130406
One stork flew away but the others stayed behind and fed.
Wood Stork in flight 20130406
Right where we were watching there was a sign on the boardwalk that told about the stork. Funny, it was right behind us!
Wood Stork sign 20130406
We walked to the end of the boardwalk. Just before the end three big blue birds flew up. Grampa said they were Purple Swamphens. This was so exciting! I had never seen Purple Swamphens in my life before! 
Purple Swamphen in flight 2-20130306
I asked Grampa what time it was, and he said it was 9:05. We were supposed to be back home by nine, but I forgot, so Cari and I had to race to get back to the car. But we were late. We had to get ready to go for a baptism in Miami. If you click on the picture you can see how clean our shoes are! 

P.S. Grampa stepped in Bobcat poop!!!
Nietas at Chapel Trail Preserve 20130406


  1. Such a great story she gave! And you were very creative with those grocery bags. I would have never thought of that. But the best is that last sentance.

  2. oh, this was a wonderful post! i know how much your granddaughters enjoyed the outing with you! so smart to use the grocery bags, too! loved all the photos and the narration!

  3. Graciela,

    Thank you for your wonderful post! It's the best I have read in a long time. Your descriptions of the morning are simply fantastic! I love that you saw birds on the nest and a deer! I will have to remember the grocery bag shoes when I take my own grandchildren bird watching.

    Hope you enjoyed your stay in Florida!

    Wally, A Grandpa Too

  4. Hired, give Gracie the post. That was excellent! Good job Ken! Watch where you step.

  5. Beautifully written! She is a natural! What wonderful experiences grandpa shares! Beautiful photos and video Ken!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. GREAT job Graci!!!! I'm SO proud of you!♥

  8. Awesome serie of photos!
    Well done!

  9. Those kids are talented Ken. All those pictures they took and all you did was step in some poop! A typical granddad.

  10. i love the bags on the feet. that is just too funny & fun. amazing shots. i enjoyed this post. thanks. ( :

  11. The commentary from Graciela is stupendous. I so enjoyed reading this, and viewing the images of the storks, the herons, the swamphens. The sign of the snake, tho, that could've been left out. [kidding]

    Excellent post Graciela. Excellent.

  12. Cute post! I love the night herons. It is nice to see your grandchildren becoming young birders. Have a great day!

  13. wonderful post and I'm sure your granddaughters will never forget it!

  14. gret post. To use bags as covers I have actually done once. It lasts for a while. Love the herons. Very good shots.

  15. Maybe you have had on a pair of grocery bag boots Grampa! A delightful narrative by your grandie and fabulous shots!

  16. Super post, Graciela! You told the story very well. I am so jealous that you have seen yellow-crowned night herons. I have never seen on, only the black-crowned variety.

  17. What a fantastic set of photos, I realy like the Night Heron, but it was a joy to see them all.
    Take care, Gordon.

  18. A great series of photos and your granddaughter's commentary is perfect.

  19. Great outing for the little girls and loved your wood stork shots. Have a great day!


  20. wow you did a fabulous write up Graciela - well done! It's great fun to go bird-watching and I hope you get to go out more often to see more of nature. I was interested to learn what Grandpa had told you about the wood-stork, putting it's wing out to attract the fishes like that. Hope you got to the baptism on time afterall. Happy birding and writing, from Carole M. in Australia.

  21. Great post! Well done. Everyone loves a good story and great pics too.

  22. What a darling, interesting narration and beautiful photos! Thank you so much!

  23. Beautiful birds. I love the shot of herons.

  24. Graciela you are a wonderful writer. I enjoyed your story. It sounds like you and Cari had a lovely time with your Grandpa.
    Grandpa sure took some really great photos to go along with your story!
    The grocery bags were a good idea to keep your shoes clean. Sounds like Grandpa needed some too to keep his shoes clean. :)

  25. One of the BEST blog posts I've ever read! She had me hooked from the beginning and I read the whole way through. Lovely images too of course! I think you have a budding writer in your family!

  26. Love this post! I love the beautiful pics of the herons & your granddaughters story. She did great! How fun for her! My middle son (7) wants to start his own blog. Maybe letting him post a few times on my blog would be a good way for him to try it first. Can't wait to read more from your granddaughter.

  27. An excellent post!

  28. Nice post! Get the kids birding. I have been known to wear the plastic bags on the inside of the shoes! But after a few hours your feet are wet and rather rancid! But they are warm!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  29. What an amazing post! It just goes to show you have to catch them young to give them a joyful occupation for life and who better to do that than grandparents. Great pictures as well.

  30. What a magnificent outing and the images are all superb. I especially like the Purple Swamphen! The plastic bags on feet, remind me of days of bringing up our girls, when they had no rubber boots for such outings~


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