The male Alopochen Aegyptiaca attracts the female with a combination of honking, neck stretching and feather displays. These are also  warnings of an eminent attack.

 

This weekend, I dashed out of the house
before the sun rose to find an
interesting photo and headline.

Trekking the rim of a fog enshrouded
lake in Jupiter Florida’s Riverbend Park,
I found more than I was looking for.

As darkness turned to light,
turtles, snakes, alligators and mule deer appeared.
Nothing unusual.

But, then, at the water’s edge THEY appeared.
Our eyes made contact.
And a headline formed in my brain:

LOVELY SWANS FOUND DANCING
BY FLORIDA LAKE

They were the size and shape of swans, but had a strange brew of features.  For one, their eyes were fiery orange
with dark sinister rings—perhaps nature’s way of warning?
But their legs were large and loopy and colored bright pink as if
to say “Come closer, we are a festive, happy go lucky species!”

 

ALIEN VISITORS APPEAR IN PALM BEACH PARK

These were not swans, ducks, nor geese. I learned later
they were “escapees from a captive waterfowl collection”with a serious rap sheet.

These invaders came from Lake Victoria
Africa. Ancient Egyptians  considered them sacred—and included them in tomb paintings.

I focused the telephoto lense on the larger one’s eye.

It stared at me as though I were a dead mummy.

Egyptian Geese from Lake Victoria, Africa may have been brought to South Florida by private collectors.

EGYPTIAN GEESE ENJOY ATTACKING HUMANS

The swan-like figures turned to greet me. Oh, what a headline and story would soon be mine!  Later, would I see You Tube videos of adult Egyptian Geese attacking and killing Shelducks in the Netherlands. Later, I would  follow the social media posts of scientists debating the depth of this new world threat.
Jamie O’Connor of the University of East Anglia posted that
“attacks on both birds and people” occur often in South Africa.
Jost Borcherding of the University of Cologne recalled that
super aggressive Nile Geese inspired his wife’s diploma thesis.

I began clicking away, getting wonderful images of this obviously
loving pair as they honked amorously, neck stretched while exhibiting their glorious feathered wing tips. The golden sun, now burning off the morning swamp fog, highlighted  sharply pointed  colorful bills and  fluorescent talons.
What a rare treat to witness one of nature’s mating rituals! I moved in closer as they rewarded me with their songs!

SOUTH FLORIDA GOLFERS, HIKERS AND ALLIGATORS
NOT SAFE FROM ALOPOCHEN AEGYPITIACA

Using a monopod, a photographer enjoys the flexibility to quickly
move position for a more advantageous background—so I moved
closer still! I lifted my camera up to my face, and let the motor drive
whir away. Soon, I would be regaling fellow birders a remarkable tale over Earl’s Tea and dipping biscuits!

The attack came suddenly and without a clue. Well, perhaps
their were many, many clues. Wiki facts told me I was lucky to have escaped with limbs intact.

Just a few miles south,  PGA Tour players had been nipped on  16th fairway at Palm Beach Garden’s  Honda Classic Championship!
In my home state, dozens of  tourists, baby strollers and park sitters had been marked for life with bird phobia.

The best You Tube clip featured a the videographer who thought correctly that an animal selfie would make him famous on the Internet. He succeeded beyond his dreams.

Today was a day I learned much about birding. And, yes,

I came home with the final  headline for my story:

ASK BEFORE TAKING STRANGERS PHOTOS

 

Egyptian Geese are not your friends.

Peaceful reflections in the South Florida wilderness.