Friday, December 23, 2011


A couple of weeks ago Saturday was a beautiful day--maybe a bit warm for December standards, but clear and blue.  Early afternoon we decided to take the kayaks out to the lake.

Normally we head out from the landing to an area we call "the flats."  But it was later in the afternoon than we usuallly go out, so instead we opted for the closer "Iron Curtain".  Not quite certain where that name comes from--it's a line of cypress trees that go almost from one side of the lake to the other, and have formed their own land mass with their tangled roots.

It was a great day for birds--anhingas, cormorants, moor hens, galanules, herons. Bob watched a young ibis and a moor hen fussing at each other over what must have been a prime spot, then gave up and upended together (sorry about the somewhat fuzzy pictures--we take a waterproof camera out on the kayaks and sometimes the picture quality isn't great).

Although it was only about 3:00 in the afternoon, a lot of birds were coming in to roost.  I pointed out a dozen black vultures sitting on a branch to Bob.  Then I looked among the tangled roots and saw another dozen or so vultures.  About that time some groups of cormorants were flying in.  Then more.  And more vultures.  We saw dozens.  Hundreds. 


We craned our heads back and looked up to see a scene out of Hitchcock's "The Birds" -- vultures circling overhead and spiraling down to the trees, flights of cormorants streaming in.  The sound effects were amazing--not only the grunting, cawing, screeching, and honking, but the crashing of the branches and the sound of wind whistling through a million feathers.  The trees were thick with the birds jostling for space.  One inviting gap in the tree roots had a polite lineup of vultures taking their Saturday night bath.

Words and pictures cannot descripe the wonder of this experience.  Sometimes you have to travel to the ends of the world to see something like this--and sometimes you just have to head out to your own backyard.

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