An experienced Everglades bird photographer must have quite a portfolio. He must have photographed the Purple Gallinule, in all its violet and green iridescence, padding the giant floating leaves of spatterdock. He must have photographed dozens of Roseate Spoonbills, feeding like pink vacuum cleaners along the edge of Mrazek Pond at the right time of year. And he must have photographed the Bald Eagle on a beeline flight to steal an Osprey's catch.
Indeed, he has photographed all of these. Now, he seeks a more challenging subject--Turkey Vulture nesting. He struggles through miles of marsh to a remote hardwood hammock, and pushes through the wall of tangled foliage at its periphery. Inside, he spots his quarry. An adult vulture broods two pale eggs splotched with brown, laid on a simple scrape in the soil. As the photographer approaches to within a few yards, the bird squats lower and hisses . The photographer reaches into his knapsack for his camera. He steadies it, makes the proper adjustments, and prepares to release the shutter.
But the vulture has a different agenda--the defense of its eggs. Before the photographer can shoot, he stands stiffly, a horrified expression pasting his face. For now he is covered-- from neck to kneecaps--in vulture vomit.