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        Sunday morning and I check my water meter to see what the  level is for the week. this is done for the St. John’s River Management to document the highs and lows of our little lake. It is still down about 7feet from three years ago. I have two gauges, a small one and very tall one. The larger gauge is the original, but when it became land locked by drought a couple summers ago,  the St. John’s guys put a smaller meter further out in the water. This drought has not affected our wildlife because this lake is good and deep, but seeing the water so low is rather sad, especially having photos of where it had been after the hurricanes. Though this year the sandhill cranes, possibly a good predictor of weather and drought, choose to put their nest on the shallow marsh just offshore. The water never rose enough to ruin the nest, on the contrary, it went down. Luckily we are getting some good afternoon rains lately. A foot more and the small guage will be hidden beneath the water.
        The Great heron was already out looking for breakfast earlier when I came to read the gauge. He looks so regal standing there. The heron and the sandhills have a longstanding rivalry and usually the cranes intimidate the herons and they fly off. This morning belonged to the heron, the cranes are off making their rounds throughout the neighborhood. The heron fishes off the small marsh where the crane nest is.  We do have a few heron nests around here. I had a nest containing three heron babies in my pine tree by the lake next to a large red leaf maple. Two years ago the maple fell over in a wind storm, cracked in half and fell right into the lake. After that the herons dismantled their pine tree nest and took EACH piece and flew away! It was too exposed to the hawks and eagles without the extra coverage of the maple.
        The heron that I see almost every night is very tall and has beautiful markings. As soon as I catch something, his head turns, the neck bends forward as he listens to the familiar smacking of the water as I reel in a fish. He will fly over from the marsh and beg ‘like a polite dog’. Sometimes I reward him and he is grateful. He will stay out there as long as I will, once I head for the house, he leaves, whoever thinks birds have  tiny ‘bird brains’ is mistaken, believe me, these birds know a sucker when they see one…

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