Ballerino Extraordinaire of the Bird World – December 7, 2015

Reddish Egret – Galveston East Jetty – Personal Photo GKennedy

Today BFF Linda and I traveled South to meet up with some dear friends to enjoy the camaraderie of lunch, laughter and a few games of cards in a Denny’s restaurant. As we traveled South towards Corpus Christi, Linda and I reminisced about one of the most beautiful experiences we were privileged to witness at a Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival event a few years ago.

As usual, we were up early, traveling in the dark to the convention center in Harlingen to board our bus for our planned outing to some mudflats located behind the South Padre Island Convention Center. We are never guaranteed bird sightings. Many times it simply is the luck of the draw. Today we hit the jackpot!

We already had an extremely full day of shore bird identification. It was a very, very cold and windy day and standing in the biting wind being buffeted on all sides while trying to identify some birds with cold binoculars can be exhausting. When we arrived at the mudflats, we were immediately captivated by two Tri-Colored Herons playfully challenging each other. They ran, jumped and skittered across the mudflats in a choreographed display that can only be called magical. We watched these two for quite some time and soon they were joined by one of my favorite birds, a Reddish Egret. He was regal in his beautiful rust colored feathers that were blowing gracefully in the breeze created by his cavorting. He pranced, skipped, hopped and darted to and fro, changing directions effortlessly. If birds could be ballerinas, then this bird was definitely the premier danseur noble.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a ballet performed by the Russian Ballet troupe in the Hermitage Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Because of traffic, my friend and I had arrived with our group a little late and we rushed up the stairs to the theatre afraid we would not be able to get a good seat. We were delightfully surprised to find ourselves being ushered to the front row of the theatre directly in front of the orchestra pit. We breathlessly took our seats as the curtain rose and the orchestra struck the first chords of Swan Lake. I knew at that moment that what I was about to witness was going to be one of the best and most touching memories of my life. I sat captivated for the entire ballet, tears streamed unchecked over my face just from the sheer beauty of what I was seeing, the emotion that I was experiencing. As the story unfolded and I watched the rib cages of the swans as they heaved in and out, I found myself holding my breath. My heart skipped beats as the raw emotion of such beauty washed over me. At that moment, the ballerinas were the swans and the power of their tremendous artistry and the timeless majesty of the music was unsurpassed by anything I had ever seen, heard or experienced.

That cold winter day on the mudflats of South Padre Island in South Texas, what I witnessed approached the indescribable beauty of that Russian ballet. It was spectacular. It was magical. It was beauty as only nature can provide at moments when we are least expecting it. I was captivated and in awe of nature’s premier danseur noble, the Reddish Egret.

Happy bird searching!


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