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Posts Tagged ‘great blue heron’

“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore … I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”  – William Butler Yates.

A tree full of double-crested cormorants at Lake End Campground. — Photo by Pat Bean  

Water and Birds for Double the Pleasure

A walk among the moss-dripping trees. — Photo by Pat Bean

One of my favorite things to do when I traveled across this country in my RV was to spend the night parked where I could be lulled to sleep at night by the sounds of water gurgling, lapping and laughing. It was better than any sleeping pill, assuring me a good night’s sleep, and a morning eager to take a walk by the water.

It didn’t hurt either that lakes and ponds and oceans were also the stomping grounds of birds to feed my birdwatching passion.

Great Blue Heron at Lake End Campground, Louisiana. — Photo by Pat Bean

So, it was that I found myself spending a few nights on the western edge of Louisiana’s Lake Palourde at Lake End Campground, sharing it with an abundance of double-crested cormorants and great blue herons. An additional bonus was its scenic walking trail.

Palourde is an 11,250-acre lake near Morgan City, Louisiana. It was originally called Lac Palourde by early French settlers, which means Lake Clam. The name came because of the abundance of clams that once lined the shore.

I didn’t see any clams, but I did see lots of birds – and I slept well.

Bean Pat:  Living outside the lines https://tinyurl.com/y9ho6t7r Be sure and listen to the music. I really loved this blog

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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            “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” – Carl Jung

Just as this gorgeous great blue heron sits behind a bramble of thorny branches, I'm hoping for the silver lining behind my sprained ankle. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Just as this gorgeous great blue heron sits behind a bramble of thorny branches, I’m hoping for the silver lining behind my sprained ankle. — Photo by Pat Bean

  I Hate Whiners, and Now I Am One

My sprained ankle is not one bit better. In fact, I think it is worse, perhaps because of the three flights of stairs I have to go up and down daily to walk Pepper. I’m thinking of getting a dog walker for a few days in hopes if I let my foot rest, it will begin healing. When I’m on it for more than a few minutes it swells up like a grapefruit.

I did finally go to the doctor, and X-rays showed nothing broken. They gave me a gel brace to wear, which sometimes helps and sometimes doesn’t. Meanwhile I am not getting much writing done, mostly just my weekly three blogs for American Profile magazine in which I get to write about this country’s many sight-seeing opportunities. http://blogs.americanprofile.com/

I’m simply not one of those people who can work through a painful distraction, perhaps because I have been blessed to have had very few sick or painful days in my life.  Even now I feel ashamed for whining.

Perhaps this incident will help me more patient of those who do. I mean there’s got to be a silver lining somewhere. I’ve always found it before.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  http://tinyurl.com/b5gdsy9 Angel’s Rest, where unwanted animals find sanctuary. If you’re ever in this awesome area of Southern Utah, you should drop by.

 

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Entrance to Prairie Dog State Park, Kansas — Photo by Mike Blair

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Adventures with Pepper: Day 12   

Prairie Dog at Lake Arrowhead State Park in Texas. The Kansas prairie dogs were too quick for my camera. — Photo by Pat Bean

         Kansas’ Prairie Dog State Park was indeed a great place to spend the night, so I spent two.

Pepper and I had a peaceful camp site that offered a tree-framed view of Keith Sebelius Reservoir out Gypsy Lee’s rear window. While I saw several of the critters for which the park was named on the drive in, birds were the only wildlife I saw in the camping area.

These included an osprey that hung out in a tree overlooking the lake, killdeer near its shore, a lone great blue heron that sat on a rock in the water about a hundred feet from shore and turkey vultures frequently hovering overhead.

Black-tailed ferret, a cute little thing but deadly to prairie dogs, which make up about 90 percent of the ferret’s diet. — Wikipedia photo

But it was the sighting of the black-tailed prairie dogs roaming free in this high plains grass prairie that delighted me most.

That’s because I once participated in an endangered wildlife project that didn’t bode well for a pack of these prairie dogs that roamed the Utah-Colorado border.

The project involved transplanting endangered black-footed ferrets, thought to be extinct until a pack of about a dozen of them were discovered in 1981, into their midst. Prairie dogs are the black-footed ferrets favorite food, even though the two species are near the same size.

The discovered ferrets were captured and entered into a breeding program and some of the offspring began being transplanted back into the wild. Today there are slightly over 1,000 ferrets once again inhabiting North America.

If the number of prairie dogs I’ve seen in my travels are any indication, they are surviving quite nicely – thankfully.

Book Report: 54,312 words. The number is better than it sounds because I cut almost as much as I edited.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  I Can’t Afford It http://tinyurl.com/8vnkbw8 I’m pretty thrifty but it’s good to be reminded every now and then that it’s OK to say no to things we want but may not need.  

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            “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” Tim Cahill

My morning walk with old birding friends on Two Rivers Trail began here beneath Ogden’s 21 Street Bridge across the Ogden River. — Photo by Pat Bean

But First, Bird Watching on Two Rivers Trail         

Along with seeing that great Southwest bird overhead, everyone also got a very close-up view of this juvenile great blue heron. — Photo by Pat Bean

    “Hey! Did you see that big bird with silver wings and a red tail?” asked Jack Rensel, whom I know is as old as this wondering wanderer, but whom looked as young as ever and was still carrying his birding scope and tripod over his shoulders as we walked the Two Rivers Trail early this morning.

“You mean the Southwest bird,” someone quickly jibed.

It felt ever so good to be back among my old bird-watching friends after a year’s absence.  Jack and Keith Evans, whom I also got to see this morning at the bird-walk breakfast, were my mentors and my reference sources back when I was writing a birding column for the Ogden newspaper.

It’s a good thing one or the other of them was always available, as I was a novice birder at the time and hated making a fool of myself in print.

My birding skills have improved since those days, and so has Ogden’s trail system.

The river was still this morning, making it the perfect canvas for landscape reflections. I especially liked this double bouquet of yellow blossoms. — Photo by Pat Bean

Good for me and good for Ogden.  The city has grown since I left it eight years ago, but the Wasatch Chapter of birders that I left behind hasn’t changed at all. It’s still the best Audubon group I’ve ever had the privilege of birding with.

I hated to leave this group of awesome birders early,  but I had miles to go before I could sleep.  I’ll tell you a bit about those miles tomorrow.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 44,916 words. Still inching along like a snail.                

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day

Bean’s Pat Cliffy http://tinyurl.com/8e4ghhd  Today’s arm-chair travel blog made it to the top of my list today simply because it looks like an intriguing place to sit and drink a Jack and Coke. Should I put it on my ever-growing to-do list?

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 “The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life … The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds – how many human aspirations are realized in their free, holiday lives – and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!” – John Burroughs

Delightful, Colorful, Awesome Birds

Great blue heron at Lake Arrowhead State Park -- Photo by Pat Bean

From the Bullock oriole’s flash of bright orange feathers as it flew across my path to the Canada geese that strutted down to the lake, birds were constantly making their presence known during my visit to Texas’ Lake Arrowhead State Park.

For an avid birder like myself, it was better than my favorite Jack-in-the-Box chocolate milkshake high — and came without the calories.

Mockingbirds were plentiful, making my mind play tricks on me when I saw one that didn’t quite fit in. I was thinking it might have been a tropical mockingbird, but then this quite-out-of-place species was on my mind from reports of one of them being seen in Texas’ Sabine Woods. I certainly wasn’t sure enough of my find to add it to my life list of birds.

Canada geese strutted across the manicured lawn near the fishing pier, making it easy to photograph them. I wish I had been able to capture the flock that had honked their way overhead earlier in the morning. But as I remind people often, I'm a writer not a photographer, and the only camera I own is a pocket Canon point and shoot. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I saw a great blue heron at the fish-cleaning station near the park’s fishing pier, but before I could get a picture,  it flew away. It landed in the lake on the opposite side of the pier and began fishing for its breakfast.

When I looked at it through my binoculars at it,  I saw a dozen or so spotted sandpipers cruising the shoreline in front of it, and a yellowlegs a bit farther out in the water. It had to have been a lesser yellowlegs because it was too close in size to the sandpipers to be a greater.

As I continued to watch the sandpipers, a red-winged blackbird flew in beside them. Its shoulder epaulets were so brilliantly red that they made my heart skip a beat.

Grackles, robins, snowy and great egrets, swallows (cave, I think), killdeer, scissor-tailed flycatchers and circling turkey vultures were among the many other birds at the park that I saw.

While I suspect the park is mostly favored by fishermen, it’s now on this birders list of favorite places, too.

Bean’s Pat: Trees for Arbor Day http://tinyurl.com/crhxqtu For tree huggers like me, a slide show from the National Wildlife Federation.

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“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Great blue heron hunting for its dinner along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades.

Two Photographs

When I haven’t a clue as to what I’m going to write about, I first turn to my list of potential blog topics.

That didn’t work this time. In fact it might be time for me to clean up the long list as I didn’t understand half my suggestions. Bright ideas, I’ve discovered, often lose meaning if left stagnating too long.

There is also the fact that what you write one day will never be the same thing you will write about the next day. Our perceptions about the meaning of life, or whatever, are constantly changing. Knowing this, I think, is why I’m such a fanatic journal keeper.

"Won't you step into my Everglades parlor?" -- Photo by Pat Bean

Anyway, with my written list failing me, I turned to my photographs and came across two that actually turned on the electricity in my brain. One was of an alligator lying in wait for a meal, and the other was of a great blue heron quietly waiting for its dinner to come into reach.

The differences had me thinking how all living things on this planet have the same needs. And about where each of the species fit in the food chain.

The two photos also spoke to me of patience, a thing I seriously lack. Without a bit of patience, neither of these species would have their next meal.

Then I thought of the different reactions the two photos would elicit from viewers. Oohs and aahs for the heron of course, and probably some yucks for the alligator. When I post a photo of one of these reptiles I usually get an e-mail from a daughter-in-law telling me not to get too close.

Putting two unlike things together, according to some of the self-help books I’ve read, is a good way to spark one’s creativity. I haven’t done it much, but I’m now convinced I should do it more. I mean it got me off the hook for today’s blog.

Now I’m curious as to readers’ reactions to the two photos. Tell, please.

Bean’s Pat: A Word in Your Ear; http://tinyurl.com/74zt46m For those of us who miss too many sunsets.

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 “As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.” Stephen Graham, “The Gentle Art of tramping.”

Black vultures claimed the deck that jutted into Creekfield Lake -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Come. Take a walk with me around Creekfield Lake at Brazos Bend State Park. Bring your binoculars and camera.

It’s a cool, gray morning here at the park, where Maggie and I are spending a couple of days to hike and bird-watch.

The walk begins, continues and ends with cawing crows and dee-dee-deeing chickadees providing background music. Their not unpleasant cacophony is occasionally punctuated by the rat-a-tat-tat of a downy woodpecker.

I was surprised at how close this great blue heron let me get before it flew off. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I was surprised at how close this great blue heron let me get before it flew off. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The robins, titmouses, warblers and mockingbirds also occasionally add a note or two to the melody.

There’s a sign at the beginning of the loop around the lake that says “Don’t feed or molest the alligators.” You can be assured I won’t. I hope someone told the alligators not to molest the hikers. At least Maggie wouldn’t be their dinner. I left her back in the RV after taking her for an earlier morning walk.

Near the swampy, dark-water shore, three white-ibis are feeding. In deeper water, common moorhens are holding a large meeting, their shrill, screeching making it sound as if a dispute is going on.

But by far the most numerous bird I see this day is the black vulture. They have claimed a small island in the lake, many trees, a deck that juts into the water, the top of the park observatory and even the paved trail. They wait until I am almost upon them before they move, then only reluctantly and only to the closest tree, where they sit and watch me pass beneath them.

It’s a bit eerie, but not discomforting. I know they prefer dead things for dinner and I am very much alive.

That the vultures didn’t budge until I was almost upon them didn’t surprise me. The lone great blue heron that let me get closer than normal before flying off did surprise me. They usually fly at the first appearance of a human.

I had the trail to myself, and I was constantly lingering to look about at everything about me, the lingering red leaf, the mushrooms growing on a fallen tree, the feather floating in the water.

A small bench nicely situated beneath a large live-oak tree beckons to me. I sit and soon am being entertained by a small flock of bluebirds that just happen to be passing by. When they move on, I get up to follow. The bluebirds stick together in male and female pairs and I decide they are courting. As I watch a crow flies to a nearby tree with a stick in its beak. I assume it’s for starting a nest.

All too soon, I’ve completed the walk around the lake. What a great morning.

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