Photo Essay

From Egypt To Florida?

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)

My good friend and longtime neighbor Bruce Sutton is one of the smartest people I know. Seriously! But Bruce is something of 'Jokester' too and God knows he loves a good joke. In fact he's a master 'joke teller' and will keep you in stitches when he and Gladys invite you over for a glass of Coup-De-Merlot and munchies. (He's a good cook too).

So when Bruce told me last year that he saw two Egyptian Geese Birds hanging out with a couple of feral Muscovy Ducks near the lake in the back of our lakeside homes, I didn't believe a freaking word of it. Seriously! Egyptian Geese birds here in Florida? Yeah Right! I thought it was all a big joke .... Sutton Style, that is.

Then a few weeks back Bruce called me on my Cell while (ironically) I was on my way home after a few hours of photo shooting at the Miami Metro Zoo telling me (once again) of a citing near the lake in the back of our homes of (another) two Egyptian Geese birds hanging out there. "OK Bruce", I said, "I'll check it out." And, I did.

Moments later I arrived at the front lake at the entrance of our Montego Bay residence in lakes by the Cay, Cutler Bay Florida. All I saw were a bunch of tired looking nasty feral Muscovy ducks hanging out (as they almost always do) and having sex with their Muscovy partners much like a horde of rabbits in heat. Not one freaking Egyptian (bird or otherwise) in sight. I said to myself, "Yep! My good friend Bruce got me once again."

I know what an Egyptian Goose bird looks because I took the time to Google the freaking thing when Bruce first mentioned it back in 2012. Bruce knows that I enjoy photographing birds and knew that I would have been absolutely ecstatic to capture such a rare find right here in our neighborhood. But, truthfully, the likelihood of finding a couple of Egyptian birds in South Florida (to my thinking) was as much the same as coming across a Burger King or a McDonald in the midst of the Sarah desert. But I was wrong ... not about finding a couple of American fast foods in the Sarah Desert, but wrong about the likelihood of coming across an Egyptian Goose bird, or two, near my home here in Florida. After all, the distance between Cutler Bay, Florida and Cairo, Egypt is approximately 6,400 miles.

However, this past Easter Sunday my wife Jennifer and I were having lunch on our patio enjoying the wonderful weather while sipping on some wine. I had just gulped down the first glass of my favorite Australian Merlot when out of the blue this remarkable looking 'duck like' bird came straddling through as if he (or she) were on their way to a bar-be-cue. I looked up and looked up a second time and couldn't believe my eyes. My camera was set up inside the house on a tripod near the window facing the lake as I am always ready for that million dollar one-of-a-kind shot. I immediately dashed for my camera and proceeded towards the lake where this unbelievable find (all of a sudden) just stopped and began to stare me down as if to say: "And who the heck are you?"

Music to my eyes (and ears) I thought. My God, it was a freaking Egyptian Goose bird. I was absolutely beside myself. Right then and there I thought I had died and gone to Nikon Heaven and St. Peter was about to give me the National Geographic Prize of a life time. My Goodness, I thought, there it was: a real live Egyptian Goose bird within twenty five feet from me.

I immediately start clicking away using different camera setting combinations to assure myself that at least one of these damn shots were going to be acceptable. My heart was pounding and I began, literally, to break out in a cold sweat as I thought that, for certain, this was going to get me on the First Page of some newspaper local or national. After all, this was a freaking bird all the way from Cairo, Egypt I kept thinking to myself.

Thank God for the digital camera. While I was shooting, I was able to flip back and forth to check out my exposures as my camera was now set to over-drive and almost near smoking. I shot almost 150 frames within five minutes. Ten minutes later and with almost 300 exposures now secured, I was somewhat relaxed as I was convinced that at least ten of so of these shots were going to be right on.

As it turned out, and after some research, the Egyptian Geese are just another non-native species (like their cousin the Muscovy Ducks) that was imported to the Florida Peninsula by man. According to one source: "They were brought here in the mid 1960's to be ornamental waterfowl at golf courses and aviaries. " Although they are not as common as the Blue Jay or other bird regulars that frequent Florida's Coastal Regions year round, they are not a rarity either. In other words, this was not an exceptional find to say the least, but a noteworthy find notwithstanding. After all, this was certainly a first for me in that I had never seen one of these Egyptian treasures in the feathers before. So I didn't die and went off to Nikon Heaven and, no, I will not be published on the front page of the Miami Herald ... at least not this week.

Just in case you're a birder or even care that much to follow up on this Florida resident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission has some information on the Egyptian Goose Bird which you can access here:

All was not lost though. I was happy to finally make this capture and happy to reassure my friend Bruce that I believed EVERY word he said when he first told me about our feathered friends who are frequent visitors from Egypt. (If you believe all that, I have a Pyramid in my basement I'd like to show you ... lol ...)

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—The JPG team

1 response

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (2 Apr 2013):

    love the narration and photographs... Nominating ......

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