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Aug 21 2009

How a Fox fell in love with a Wood Stork

Woodrow learns to fly. PHOTO BY: Lynda Fox

Woodrow learns to fly. PHOTO BY: Lynda Fox

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

The Wood Storks seemed completely comfortable with the pair of Foxes watching them intently from a newly installed boardwalk at Dungannon Plantation. One Fox raised a pair of binoculars to his face as the other clicked her camera over and over again, capturing each movement of the large, elegant wading birds as they fussed over their closely built nests in a giant cypress tree. This was the third or fourth time the Foxes had come back to this tree and Lynda Fox was thrilled to hear the peeping of several Wood Stork chicks for the very first time.

“We could hear them before we even got off our bikes,” she smiled, recalling the first time she caught a glimpse of the young chick that would later inspire her to write her first photojournalistic novel.

Originally born in Baltimore, Maryland, author Lynda Fox spent 25 years in Dahlonega, Georgia, as a veterinarian before she and her husband Tom, a biologist, decided to retire on the zoologically prolific Seabrook Island.
On her first visit to Dungannon Plantation, a 643 acre heritage preserve located just off highway 162 in southern Charleston County, Lynda was inspired by her first glimpse of a Wood Stork. Standing at approximately three and a half feet tall, the Wood Stork’s scaly head and neck and long, plum colored legs aren’t exactly appealing; but when they stretch out their vivid achromatic wings to their full five foot span, and the sharp chiaroscuro of the white body and black tipped flight feathers catches your eye, it’s positively breathtaking.

Camera in hand, Lynda decided to document these fascinating birds over their breeding period of early April through late May of 2008. 2,000 photographs later, Lynda not only had a detailed documentation of the early life of the Wood Stork, she also had a story to tell.

Using several reference books for her factual content, including Florida’s Wood Storks by Victoria Brook Van Meter, A Wood Stork Grows Up follows the life of Woodrow, a young Wood Stork, from only a few days after he was hatched to the day he found his own mate. The photographs speak of the lives of these enigmatic waterfowl as clearly as a novel, but Lynda’s bright descriptions and cleverly integrated facts serve to make this 138 page pictorial engaging as well as educational.

Besides Woodrow, A Wood Stork Grows Up also follows the lives of his nest neighbors, whom the author describes as “Sister”, “The Next-Door-Neighbors”, “the Rowdy Triplets”, “Only Chick”, “Max and Min” and “The Quiet Quintuplets”. Although Lynda made an effort not to anthropomorphize in her text, the characteristics of the birds still shine through in their portraits. Although it’s close to impossible to tell male from female at such a young age, Lynda brings the personalities of the birds closer to the reader with her playful naming and commentary on each nest’s occupants.

Full of anecdotes about the young chicks learning to fly, fish, dance, build nests and fall in love, this book leaves nothing out. Comedy and tragedy, live and death, this survival story of one of the world’s most endangered wading birds is a delightful read and an excellent educational guide to the Wood Stork for any age.

Front cover of A Wood Stork Grows Up, by Lynda Fox

Front cover of A Wood Stork Grows Up, by Lynda Fox

A Wood Stork Grows Up is available at Indigo Books in Freshfields Village, Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel, the Audubon Center at Beidler Forest, Huntington Beach State Park in Beaufort,, and the largest Wood Stork preserve in the world, the National Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida.
Author Lynda Fox will also be giving a power point presentation based on
A Wood Stork Grows Up at the Johns Island Garden Club meeting on September 10 at 11:15am in the Berkeley Electric building on Maybank Highway. Everyone is invited.

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