My backyard was teeming with wildlife this morning -- I had a rare glimpse of a beach rat that shares our premises. Our neighbors are appalled that we tolerate his presence, but I find him fascinating. He's rather cute -- he reminds me of an oversized chipmunk, without the stripe, and he and his offspring provide food for the herons and owls. I was truly upset when I saw a heron eat one once, but it is nature's way and I've learned to accept that. The beach rat leaves us alone and we reciprocate in kind.
As I walked out onto our dock, I startled a great blue heron that was wading beneath. He took flight with an indignant squwak and settled on the other side of the canal, regarding me with an annoyed ruffling of feathers. I apologized for having interrupted his breakfast, but couldn't help laughing all the same. With mullet jumping all around, I knew he wouldn't go hungry for long.
A sting ray, one of the larger ones I've seen lately, shot past just below my feet, overturning a small hermit crab in his haste to arrive at some unknown destination. I scanned the waters for other signs of life -- hoping to get a glimpse of the alligator that was spotted in our canal, but there was only the usual suspects -- the tiny pin fish that feed in the shallows and a trio of mullet swimming a tight circle.
Of course, I didn't capture any of it with my camera -- I am too slow, and life mostly too exuberant to smile and say cheese for a rank amateur. I do, however, have pictures I took a few days back of more sedentary neighbors -- a confederate rose that blooms out of season, a heron that perched on the top of our boat lift and was totally indifferent to my presence, and a view of our canal in the morning light.