Yesterday afternoon we drove to a conservation area east of the city to look for flocks of geese, swans, ducks and possibly cranes. The pelicans left weeks ago but as winter draws nearer the full migration is getting underway. My hope was to see large numbers of waterfowl … and possibly take some photographs.
The experience was absolutely amazing.
My friend and I arrived at the small lake around 4:00 and didn’t leave until almost 7:00. We were the only humans there … with our dogs. They got bored at times but overall were very well behaved and stayed at my side. We were standing on an earth “viewing mound” that gave a good vantage point of the lake. Bull rushes, cat-tails formed a mat between us and the water. I can imagine how busy this space would have been in the summer months … hosting blackbirds and providing shelter for ducks and shorebirds. Yesterday the sun touched the open seed pods, creating the sense of “energy” pulsating from them.
There was no wind … the air was calm so sounds carried beautifully. A dull murmur — the “chatting” of the hundreds upon hundreds of birds waiting to begin their long flight south — provided the background noise, setting the mood. From time to time a small group would suddenly talk-it-up and then take flight … only to circle above the lake for a few minutes before landing again. I wondered if someone on the far side of the lake had disturbed or frightened them — or if they were simply in “anticipation” mode. Testing their wings.
The hours passed so quickly, with the late afternoon sun providing a gentle warmth.
The sunset happened slowly …. and it was indescribable! With the setting sun the birds started to talk a lot more and they began to flap their wings …. the thunderous sound of the wing beats as the birds lifted from the lake added a whole new level of excitement for me. Absolutely incredible!!
Then the coyotes started to sing! Some sounded very close — perhaps only a couple hundred yards away, in the thick brush to the side of where we were standing. When they started to howl our dogs just lay down and stayed put. Within moments, coyotes across the little lake responded, and some to the west as well …………….. absolutely amazing. Loud, deep “hooting” from some near-by owls added to the wonder-filled experience.
Incredible. What an amazing gift that whole 3 hours was! I admit to being an idealist, a romantic, a peace-lover and a dreamer. It saddened (and saddens) me to think of the long haul these birds have before them — facing all types of weather and dangers, including hunting. Yes, it’s a reality that their numbers have to be kept in check or overpopulation would cause them to die slow deaths. But ….
As we drove away there were small herds of deer feeding in the farm fields ….
The night sky colors ranged from black in the north (a thunderstorm approaching) to burnt orange and deep rose in the west. Normally electrical storms aren’t part of our weather at this time of year so the spectacular lightning show — with very little rain — was the day’s grand finale! I’m grateful for this unforgettable experience.
These few hours are etched in my heart, my soul and my brain ………… and, yes, I did take some photographs! I’d like to share these with you ….