Inspired by Kenny and the small stretch of charming weather we’re having, I went on a quest Saturday to find mushrooms. Only some unutterable barstard’s mown down all the local fly agaric. And the ones I did find were – oh, shall we say, well past their prime and leave it at that? Bleck. And I was being lazy and doing the North Creek loop, which isn’t exactly a mushroomer’s paradise. I need to get me arse out to the woods, but after a month of sitting round sewing and a further three weeks of lying around being ill, I’m not up for the strenuous business.
Which turned out awesome, actually. I got you birdies!
There are two ponds on this stretch of North Creek. One is up by where I work: it’s large, and somewhat screened from passers-by, and it’s where a lot of the cool kids hang out. That’s where you would normally see a cormorant, when they make their way over here. However, a bird-watching gentleman told me that pond is frozen, so everybody ended up coming down the creek to the second pond, which is smaller but deep enough not to freeze. It’s also easier for people to get to, which is why the birds and other animals who don’t appreciate humans tend to give it a miss. This cormorant was also giving it a miss, opting instead for a stretch of creek up near the beaver lodge. It wasn’t too happy about being in close proximity to people, but seemed to understand that we weren’t going to come down the steep banks after it.
This did not mean it was able to live its life undisturbed. The ducks were not at all impressed by its solitary black majesty.
I thought it would photograph best with water as a background, but I decided to try another set of photos with the grassy bank behind. And green is, apparently, its color, because it really makes that orange by its beak and that green eye pop.
Here’s a nice close photo of it.
Look at those lovely patterns in its wings. Rather looks like someone spent a long time drawing it in various shades of charcoal gray and jet black, dunnit? That’s one of the many things I love about this camera. From the bank, I could barely make out the slightest shade of orange around its bill, and the body was just a solid black blob. The camera managed to resolve quite a bit with its spiffy optical zoom.
And you get a tableau like this, when the water stills after the ducks’ passing, and a noble bird is reflected.
So that was pretty awesome. Then I meandered the few steps down the trail to the pond, where a kindly birdwatching gentleman pointed out a treasure. See if you can find it in this group photo.
I’ll give you a minute. Also, a link to a larger version. Because I love you, that’s why.
Since the other pond was frozen, a huge congregation of wildlife had gathered down at this one. If you look round the mud flats, you’ll see lots of nutria having a nibble, as well as all the ducks, and this was just a small sample of the abundance.
And amongst all the usual stuff, there was this wee little green heron, who should’ve left the locale long ago.
I don’t remember ever seeing one before, so this was rather exciting, and made me feel better about missing out on mushrooms.
I spent quite a bit of time up there, watching the heron hunt, and talking to the gentleman about all the wonderful things round here. He’s seen river otters on this creek, which means I’m going to have to spend more time along it. Otters! It’s possible that’s what got mightily offended when I startled it from the bridge the other day. It plopped off the bank before I could get a good look at it, and all that would poke out later was a head sorta like a nutria but not really, and kind of like a beaver only not, and it would look toward the bridge, see me still there, and make an angry huffing sound before diving again. Just like a church-type lady doing the “Well, I never!” routine. I felt kinda bad, but look, I was on the human part of the creek and stayed there, so I sort of felt like it was getting huffy over nothing.
Anyway. One last look at our hunting heron:
Coming home, I saw a dragonfly. Yes, a big fat ol’ red dragonfly, so late in the season – I’d have shot a photo if it had landed, but it didn’t. Still. Absolutely magical, seeing a summer creature in the near-winter. It went well with the ladybug that was industriously climbing my window earlier.
And then Starspider and I went to the weaver’s store near sundown, taking the road along the lake, and those sunset colors on the water with the Cascades and Mount Rainier and everything – I wish we’d been in a position to photograph them for you. It reminds me why I moved here, and why I stay.
One of the best cities in the world, this.