The morning was murky, with a fine mist which permeated the air which was already thick and heavy. Today is the halfway mark for September, and unbelievably, it was 97% humidity and 70 degrees at 8:15 a.m. It was overcast, so the sun would not make me overly hot on my morning walk, but that dull-looking sky would not be great for picture taking either.
I decided to head to Heritage Park as it never disappoints, no matter the weather.
The backdrop of trees that frames the Park and seems to stretch for miles, looked like dark blotches in the very misty setting. I noticed that the water-powered mill’s wheel was illuminated and turning slowly, and, with that misty background, I knew immediately this was destined to be the main image for today’s post.
I decided to head to Coan Lake first, as I recalled the gentleman who arrives at the same time daily with his bag of cracked corn to feed the mallards. Well, I missed that man … but barely. The mallards were still scrambling about, enjoying the remains of their treat. Other ducks were lazily preening, or sleeping in groups around this man-made pond.
Every visit to Coan Lake brings a sense of calm and peace. That beautiful bridge cast a reflection on the water, even with the gray sky. Barn swallows dipped and dived from beneath the bridge roof, and I stepped over to see if there were still nests and little ones inside, but I could find none.
It sure was a mixed bag of waterfowl today.
The Canada geese were carrying on, squawking and raising a ruckus – it was as if they could not stand the tranquil setting, so they set about creating a little noise to liven things up a bit.
The many mallards satisfied my hankering to see a few ducks, because there must have been at least 150 or more of them, divided equally between the water and land.
Seagulls also were mixing and mingling with their feathered brethren.
I’ve been to Heritage Park about a dozen times in the last year, and the usual ducks, geese and seagulls are always around, but today there were two newcomers … well, for me anyway.
I’m curious about these guys – are they Cormorants?
My attention was drawn next to two birds with exceptionally large wingspans, wide webbed feet and unusual-looking beaks.
I was mesmerized by their actions and it seemed to me that they were putting on a display for anyone who cared to watch them.
The pair hogged the cement platform that rises out of the water. From that perch, they alternately preened, stared into space, or appeared to be airing out their wings in the moist and humid air.
I spent at least a half-hour at the water’s edge, plus took about 30 photos of them to ensure I got a good enough image to identify the pair, which I believe are Cormorants.
Well hello Mr. Heron!
You’ve followed my tales about the elusive Great Blue Heron at Council Point Park. He catches sight of me and bolts, no matter how hard I try to sneak up on him. I’ve gotten a few fairly good shots of this heron, when he was daydreaming and didn’t see me approaching. Today, after picking my way through the very dewy grass, full of feathers and goose poop, I was about to head back to the path that winds through the historic area of Heritage Park, when I saw a Great Blue Heron. This was the first heron at Heritage Park for me. He blended right into the retaining wall of Coan Lake. I took some pictures, but his gray body morphed right into the cement wall.
I stood there patiently, without moving a muscle, to see if he might pick a better location. Fifteen minutes passed and, finally, he began walking slowly on those spindly legs toward the middle of the lake. Excellent! Perhaps I could observe him there and get a better picture.
He began stalking something in the water. Coan Lake is stocked with fish, and people fish for sport, as it is “catch and release” only, although I assume herons don’t necessarily abide by the catch-and-release rule. He jerked his head and plunged it into the water, but came back up empty-handed, er … empty-beaked.
I got a few shots in, then I was greedy for some close-ups, so I inched forward, being careful not to slip into the “drink” as I was precariously close to the water’s edge. Behind cover of a tree, I got to see him in silhouette.
Just then a mosquito or some other pest, landed on my ankle and began to drink thirstily, and I had to swat it. My movement caused the heron to bolt, but he left gracefully, without the horrid squawking noise that usually accompanies a heron’s takeoff.
With all this waterfowl activity, I was reluctant to head over to the walking path that encircles Heritage Park. I didn’t want to miss anything, and besides … that heron never got his fish – I knew he’d be back.
Well he stayed on land this time, perhaps he was tired of having wet feet.
I walked along the path that goes through the village area once again, keeping my camera close at hand in case any Kodak moments arose. I chatted with a couple of people who came over to ask me about the pair of birds and what they were. I told them I was curious too and had taken enough pictures that surely I could identify them once I saw their image on the computer screen, but I believed they were Cormorants based on a bird flying overhead at the nature walk two weeks ago. We also discussed the heron as they’d not seen him before either. Suddenly, the woman raised her arm and pointed – “look over there, the heron has landed.”
Of course you know I followed it, hoping for a picture of that heron by itself, with an uncluttered background.
Suddenly, the sun pierced through that veil of gray, and just like that, it got uncomfortably warm. I know I should have gone earlier since I knew it was going to be hot and humid, but the morning mist held me back. Once the sun made an appearance, a warm glow bathed the entire Park … how many sunbeams does it take to light up Heritage Park I wonder?
Whenever I see the heron at Council Point Park, it is by itself, a solitary figure, either standing knee deep fishing in the cold Creek water, or standing statue-like on the cement precipice. This heron was socializing – walking with great strides amongst the gulls, geese and ducks.
And then he grew weary of the crowd and went airborne again to be by himself at the Little Red Schoolhouse, a mere grayish streak after he landed near the old-time schoolyard.
I finished up on the path and decided to head home as I had a few errands to do along the way.
As I was about ready to head out, I watched a flock of geese take off – they didn’t go far, circling high above Heritage Park in V-formation, then, one by one, they plopped into the water with a big splash, and fanfare to announce their arrival.
I stopped near the Park’s historic West Mound Church, where a woman and three kids were clustered around the wishing well – were they making wishes and tossing coins in there? I went over to investigate and say “hi” to them. I learned the children had discovered two painted rocks in Heritage Park and they were re-hiding them. I asked to see the remaining rock and the young girl displayed it for me.
Joy in the journey …
I asked if I could take a picture of the rock before she hid it because the words were just a perfect way to describe my morning meander with the mallards and their fine-feathered friends.