And such a very fine day it turned out to be. The bird list was not particularly long but I added a new species to my life list (which is to say that I marked the relevant page in Sibley's and also annotated my lab book): a spotted sandpiper. An argument could be made that I consider every bird I see as one of the most attractive but in this case there really is no question: the spotted sandpiper is a damned good-looking bird (if not the most obliging photo subject I've ever encountered).
But there was more than just the sandpiper. Mallards, gadwalls, and pied-billed grebes have all been busy in recent weeks making new mallards, gadwalls, and pied-billed grebes and much adoreableness has resulted. I learned, as I clicked through the hundreds of photos I took yesterday from a not-entirely-steady canoe, that I am physically incapable of deleting a photo that contains a pied-billed grebe and doubly incapable of deleting a file that contains a pied-billed grebe chick/fledgling. I endeavor to limit myself to one snap here.
But, seriously, why would one attempt to delete such creatures? Just look at how adorable they are! She looks so proud and he (or she) looks so damned preposterous. How can that feline-face turn into something that looks like a grebe? It's unfathomable, it is.
Aside from the cute chick action, we also encountered the most bizarre pileated woodpecker shortly after we drew the canoe out on Foster Island for a few minutes. At first it was all about draining a little water out of the boat and admiring some chicks, but then a pileated woodpecker swooped in to demand that its photo be taken. Many times. He gave us such looks. There were times that it seemed likely he (or, okay, equally possibly "she") was going to hop over and see if Scott's leg might not contain a few bugs. He should, really, have been giving me that look since I'd earlier found a young dragonfly resting on my hand and, later, a honey bee convinced that my knee must contain some nectar somewhere.
Hey, what about those cute duckling sorts? The photo below is out of focus but, well, focus may be overrated. This little fellow was momentarily separated from his flock and, when he realized it he became quite alarmed--and also confused, as he seemed to be making a beeline for me, rather than his mother. It all ended happily with the family reunited.
The low light, possibly, resulted in a lot of lovely reflective water--something I rarely bother to resist. In addition to taking a million snaps of birds, I insisted we pause the canoe for a few minutes while I took some shots of a particularly nice waterlily and its perfect reflection. The greenish bit at the bottom is Scott's paddle, I think--or more likely my own. It's tricky photographing from a canoe, I tell you.
And then there is the pure horror that one sometimes encounters in the sweet old natural world where, it turns out, things aren't always so sweet for all participants after all. Some of nature smiles while other parts bleed. There is, undoubtedly, a profound lesson to be learned, but I just post a perhaps gruesome photo (consider yourself warned!) and note that great blue herons have to eat too, (Me, I'm happy that what Scott is busy preparing out in the kitchen while I do battle with Photoshop, Blogger, and Comcast, is a nice tofu and vegetable stirfry. I may be off fish for a bit.)