Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not a Moth at That Time of Day

The morning dog walk can be an interesting time. 

I tend to get out just before dawn, the skies a progression chart from the stars of night to the oranges and reds of the sunrise.  The colors are just beginning to pop but it isn't quite light enough to see clearly what is out there.

I find that I have to bring a small LED flashlight with me for this walk, and at this time of year, every other dog walk.  There are street lights, in fact so many that most of the stars are blotted out in the evening.  Street lights usually do a terrible job at color representation, so the sunrise is a shift like in the Wizard of Oz.  We go from the Monochrome of Kansas to the Technicolor of Florida in the span of an hour. 

Starting out the door, I have a gecko fall onto my outstretched right hand.  Stunned, I shake my hand and it falls to the ground.  It recovers and runs into the shrubs in front of the house. 

Looking out at the conditions, it is a cool and clear morning, the Moon and it's stellar companions just beginning to fade away for the oncoming day.

I have noticed the crepuscular rays of the sun coming up over the ocean and between the high rises at the beach, and watched them shift as light floods in from the Bahamas, the Beach and eventually, home.  If you are up at sunrise, you will see them as well as the clouds will block the sun for a while going from grey to orange and to cotton candy. 

Walking out of the house and down the block, I am usually half asleep.  It was about as quiet as life in the South Florida Sprawl can get.  There were no trucks delivering at the shops, belching diesel generators and chillers were not breaking the morning.  The bus hadn't arrived and the cars had been in a gap.  The only thing I heard was the science fiction audio book in my ears chattering about a future that might yet be.

Nudging Mrs Dog along past the phone at the corner of the shops, I walked her over to the swale and the plantings there.  The Night Blooming Jasmine has been particularly floral these days and the shabby little shrubs were a shock of five petaled white blossoms making a scent that even my weak nose could notice.  The corner smelled like the tea you can get in a Chinese Restaurant or Market, as well as the usual moisture and organic matter of the tropical air.

At that point Mrs Dog decided to add her own organic matter back to the biosphere when a small flick of motion shot into my notice.  First, I thought they were moths but they just aren't out at this time of day, and certainly not out into the gloom of the predawn light.  I later realized that this shabby little shrub with dozens if not hundreds of flowers was being visited by something I almost never saw before getting here - Hummingbirds.

I was witnessing the morning feeding of not just one but at least four tiny birds flitting around from blossom to blossom.  I was fascinated as they performed an aerial dance that was unparalleled in my experience.  What was even more impressive was their single minded purpose.   Here I was with my dog.  We walked right up to the same spot and they ignored us intent on their own business of getting the morning nectar.  At one point Lettie brushed against the little shrub and the birds didn't even move away. 

If this were daytime my first thought would be grab the camera and get a picture.  As it was, I stopped bringing it along because the walks in the morning just does not have enough light for my camera to get a proper fix.

Since it wasn't daytime, my mind wandered to what it was that brought these little jewels to the neighborhood.  Hummingbirds being a niche creature, require very specific conditions.  A concrete jungle does not a habitat make.  The nearby nature preserve at M.E. DePalma Park as well as the efforts of many people in getting their homes certified for nature preserve status has been having their effects.  Monarch Butterflies are a daily occurrence, not a once in a while thing.  Now the Hummingbirds are arriving and there have been more egrets and storks showing in the water. 

Completing my morning circuit I later caught some motion in my one eye.  Out on the Middle River, there were a group of Muscovy Ducks paddling behind the buildings.

I am in the middle of the urban sprawl, but nature will show its head where ever you look.  All you need to do is give it a little room.


  1. Hey Bill-to bad you weren't able to get any pictures-I would have loved to see the Hummingbirds! Would they possibly be out during the day-if so take somes pictures!!! :)

  2. Pat, I usually have the camera with me but its dark at 6am. Then again, I'm overdue for another Photo Safari, so I'll have plenty of things to write about.