Mark Hedden

Mark Hedden is a photographer, writer, and semi-professional birdwatcher. He has lived in Key West for more than 25 years and may no longer be employable in the real world. He is also executive director of the Florida Keys Audubon Society.

WILD THINGS: NIGHTHAWKS IGNORING THE DEADLINES

Pedaling down Whitehead Street on the way home from the Green Parrot the other night I was pointing out all the nighthawks flying overhead in the last of the crepuscular light. By the time we passed the lighthouse and the Hemingway House there’d been about 30 or 40 of...

WILD THINGS: THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE MIGRANT COUNTER

Mariah Hryniewich started the Florida Keys Hawkwatch on Aug. 1 this year. For the first three days, hawk counter extraordinaire Jeff Bouton was there with her, but after that she was on her own. In previous years she’d worked the count with Luis Gles who was, if not her...

WILD THINGS: THE WORST BIRD DOG IN THE WORLD

I remember the breeder’s place was in an orange grove just north of Okeechobee. There was a barn with two walls (a pole held up the fourth corner of the roof), a wire pen in the dirt and a small pond. Also, there were puppies everywhere, misbehaving in all...

WILD THINGS: KEYS GULLS, NICER THAN YOU THINK

A thought occurred to me this week, an unexpected one that, for reasons unclear, has kind of stuck with me: We have some awfully well-behaved gulls here in the Florida Keys. I saw a tweet during the recent heat wave in England that made me think. It was about a...

WILD THINGS: MAKING THE ROOFTOPS COUNT

There’s a common trope in TV and movies referred to as the Clipboard of Authority, in which a character looking to bamboozle access to someplace they don’t belong grabs a clipboard and a pen, acts in charge, and scams their way in. It’s a nice trope, but it doesn’t...

WILD THINGS: A PARKING LOT TAG TEAM MATCH

It was 7:30 a.m. in the McDonald’s drive-through line. The sun was low, the line was long, but the service was pretty good and things moved at an impressively brisk pace. I was in that no-man’s-land between paying and getting your food when I saw it – a sight...

WILD THINGS: A GOOD DAY FOR THE BLUES

If you want to find a Miami blue caterpillar the first thing you do is look for the gray nickerbean. You could also look for Keys blackbead, but Keys blackbead can also be the host plant for the Cassius blue butterfly and their larvae look pretty much the same,...

WILD THINGS: CHASING A TINY VENTRILOQUIST

I wasn’t going to go chasing after the yellow-green vireo that appeared at Dagny Johnson State Park in Key Largo late last week. For one, I didn’t expect it to stick around. I’d known of two sightings in the Lower Keys and they were both short looks at birds...

LOSE YOURSELF IN THESE LANDSCAPE DESIGNS – HOME & GARDEN MAGAZINE

If design work is largely about solving problems, good design is about solving them in such a way that you forget what the original problems were in the first place.  Arguably it’s why stepping onto a Craig Reynolds-designed property — with all the green and the shade, all the flowing...

WILD THINGS: TREE RATS, THE BIG LIE

I think my favorite Key West tree rat experience was years ago at Blue Heaven. Before they were as busy as they are these days, they used to put on plays in the back corner of the yard. This particular production was George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan.” My friend...

WILD THINGS: IRRATIONAL RESPONSES TO IRIDESCENCE

It was the iridescence that gave the bird away, the dusky gleam that made it look black but also, at the same time, a shifting palette of burgundy, purple and green.  Honestly, I didn’t trust the gleam at first, just suspected it. Most of the birds I was seeing were white...

WILD THINGS: TRYING TO SEE EYE TO EYE

The storm had just ended and it was as if someone had flipped a switch. The sky was blue, the wind was gone, the humidity felt a little vengeful. It happened so quickly it apparently caught out the professional weatherpersons, so now they were standing in a puddle, in their...