Sunday, July 26, 2020

Camping In The Age Of The Virus: Part 5

If you're a Florida fishing person then you know what a Snake Bird is. Of course, Florida is almost totally made up of people that are not native fisher folk, so we get a lot of talk about "Are you sure it was a Cormorant and not an Anhinga?" To which we reply "It was a dang Snake Bird, I'm telling ya!" I have a pretty good feeling that this happens all around the world. Some people spend a lot of time out in nature and discover than the wildlife has figured out how to deal with us. In this particular case, at least one flock of Snake Birds have figured out a real easy way to get their food.
My experience with saltwater fishing around inshore west coast of Florida is that snake birds hang around fishing boats, in hope of getting some of the fish the fishermen throw back because they are too small...or to steal bait from their hooks if they have something really tasty on that hook. Most fisher folk see them as a relative nuisance, and the birds seem pretty territorial. I can still remember driving an hour to a special "secret" fishing spot and with in seconds of shutting off the motor we had 2-3 snake birds coming in for a landing. They would hang around until they were certain we had no live bait and weren't going to catch anything. As a matter of fact, when the birds left the scene, it was a bit depressing to think that even the birds thought we were losers.

As I left our campsite to head out into the mangrove waters, I was pretty excited. The area looked just like the kind of place where one might find a Redfish tailing around or a mangrove snapper that was extra hungry this time of day. Instead what I found was that the water was only about 2-3 feet deep in every direction, and although I was in a great position to sight fish, I saw nothing but a growing crowd of snake birds following me around the place. I quickly grabbed my GoPro camera to record this crazy bunch of groupies that I had and found that although I had backups for everything, I had no SD card in the this point I still had high hopes that this was the only thing I had forgotten to bring.
The birds were brave, very brave and I was not certain at all that they wouldn't climb aboard and start pointing out where I needed to paddle. They seemed to really like it when I paddled faster and grew restless when I stopped. I tried to search for meaning in their eyes, but all I saw was a pale blue stare that seemed to say "Did I say stop paddling?". All in all, I was feeling pretty cheerful, even without the rare footage of an SUP guy surrounded by birds, helping him fish. At this point I was still taking it as an omen, that they could tell I had the right gear, the right look, and was indeed the serious fisherman that would be providing dinner that night...of course, all of this was before I found out their real intentions...

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