Okay, birding it was. While I was getting ready, and waiting for the sun to get in the right position according to where I was going, I did catch the first quarter of a boring game with lame announcers, so I was out the door with no regrets.
First up, a kayak trip around what has become my favorite part of Tern Lake. Few people see the upper reaches of this lake, not unless they can walk on or otherwise voyage on water. My bright blue kayak was just right for a glassy water paddle.
I visited the area where the kingfishers hang out. These gorgeous blue and white birds were nowhere to be seen. In fact, other than a few ducks and a bald eagle that didn't have the courtesy to wait while I fiddled with the settings on my camera, I didn't see anything. The hawks wasn't around and neither were the magpies.
|Same duck as above|
|Wait wait wait wait wait...|
|C'mon. Just a few seconds more... Nope, it flew away.|
I'll say one good thing about all the overcast and rain: our autumn colors usually peak mid-September but with the warmer weather, many of the trees haven't begun to turn color and we haven't had a frost yet either.
I gave up on birding by kayak and drove around the lake to Dave's creek where I'd seen two new (to me) birds. Birders call them "lifers." These are photos I took a few days ago when I first saw them:
|Juvenile hermit thrush|
|Rusty blackbird transitioning to non-breeding colors.|
Well, I saw the rusty blackbird on the other side of the creek but it wouldn't come into the open where I could get a shot at it. The hermit thrush wasn't around, not until I turned on my fancy new iPhone, opened the Sibley's e-Bird app, and played the hermit bird call.
It landed on the logs and brush in the creek opposite me, looked around, flew closer to me on my side of the creek, and approached.
|You have to love juvenile birds. They are so curious.|
I wonder what I was "saying" when I played that bird call. This little thrush seemed to enjoy it.
I waited for the blackbird, then decided that because the sky was clear, I should winterize my little travel trailer in case it froze that night.
About 7 o'clock, I went back to the lake.
One of my favorite sayings is "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take away our breath." This was one of them for me.
On the side of Tern Lake that's bordered by the Sterling highway, the Tern Lake swans and their cygnet were quite close to the road. About a dozen cars had pulled over and people were out watching and photographing the swans.
It is very unusual for the swans to linger when people get out of their vehicles and I was amazed. I also took full advantage of it.
This is the gray cygnet preening, carefully watched by its mother. The cob was a short distance away, watching the spectators.
From many hours of watching bird behavior, I knew what happens after a long preening session:
Now comes the tricky part. The cygnet has shaken all those feathers into their proper position and has to fold its wings to tuck the feathers away.
|The white things on the water are swan feathers.|
By this time, there were only a few of us watching and the swans began to swim farther away from the road.
The cygnet, however, was enjoying the company and came closer.
With a quiet honk from a vigilant adult, the cygnet turned away and followed its parents.
I continued on the Dave's Creek where a little American dipper greeted me with a song.
The rusty blackbird emerged from the forest but this was the best look I could get.
|That rust color with the blue-black wings and tail are striking!|
I hung around the creek until after 8. By then, I was having to set the ISO on the camera very high to get enough light, so I went back to my truck and started for home.
The sunset was well under way and it was the perfect moment to leave.