We had a bit of rain this morning which had the ground soaked and the lake level almost up to the trail. Although I waded through a flock of juncos early on, the area was strangely silent and my expectations were low. It was interesting to me to note that on the east end of the lake the juncos were sharing their space with a tufted titmouse and a chickadee.
At 65F, even the south side of the lake was warm. There were no geese on the trail or in the water as I rounded what think of as "Cold Cove." The trail angles through a stand of pines to another cove. As I came down the hill toward "the cove by the stone wall" I again flushed a mess of juncos. As many as there were on the ground, I could also hear them calling from the very tops of the pines around me. I was over the stone patio and past the south building when I arrived on my next gathering of juncos. Amongst them were a smattering of swamp sparrows. Unlike geese, juncos seem to appreciate a little variety in their company.
On the water, I could see the small fowl that had been too far away yesterday. Even today, I’m not sure. It could have been a hooded merganser with his crest folded down. These guys have a clear third eyelid that they use to protect their eyes while searching out fish underwater. If you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to jump in the lake and try to swim close enough to check it out. (But don’t think I’ll give you a ride home in my car, afterwards!) The mystery of final identification will have to remain on hold until at least next week.
By now I had walked about a mile and a half without seeing another walker. This is very unusual and I attribute it to the mucky conditions. As I neared the west cove, a great blue heron and I began a game of tag that lasted the rest of the way around the lake. I fell in love with these birds taking their pictures in the marshes around Myrtle Beach as a kid on vacation. As he flew off for the last time, I had an exciting sighting. A belted kingfisher was raising Cain and scooting around just above the water’s surface near the footbridge where I begin and end my walks. He even landed on the rail of the bridge one time. Aren’t kingfisher’s just the coolest?
It’s a good thing that my knee now allows me to exercise on the Nordic Trac, because my "walks" have become "stop and gawks." What a wonderful way to spend my lunch break in January.