Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Virgil in the Wetlands

Next time you pass the sign for the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, off Jog Road in Delray Beach, Florida, seek out Israel “Izzy” Zuckerman, a former accountant who has a PhD in differential algebra from Rutgers. He will be your Virgil, taking you through an inferno turned paradise, where purified waste is turned into a wildlife refuge. He will show you the island where the Great Blue Herons majestically mate and build their nests. Some of these herons even live double lives, as attested by the fact that one was sighted carrying sticks to a second nest. Israel, who carries binoculars and a well-worn glossary of birds in the back pocket of his blue shorts, will tell you that egrets are herons and that herons fly with their necks out. The ibis, a bird with storied associations in ancient Egyptian lore, is not a heron, and flies with its neck tucked in. At Wakodahatchee, Israel will also introduce you to the Roseate Spoonbill and the Blue-winged Teal. You will see a Night Heron sleeping, and walking back to your car you will have to wait for Peahens, who march lackadaisically through the parking lot, fearlessly blocking traffic as they lumber across the road. Israel hails from the Plainview New Jersey area, which is where he first became interested in bird watching. You will realize as you leave and merge back into traffic lanes filled with Snowbirds, that you are unlikely to ever see Israel again, unless, of course, you return to Wakodahatchee.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.