Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flyways and Highways

Great Blue Heron

Spring and fall are good times for watching birds in my neighborhood. We live five blocks from a pond (we call it a lake, but it's really a borrow pond leftover from highway construction, being fed by a few springs) and there's another one a mile further up the road, near a hospital and medical office building. Both ponds are home to flocks of domestic looking ducks, but the hospital pond has acquired some egrets and at least one blue heron.

I saw the heron and an egret on a trip to my gastroenterologist two weeks ago, or thought I did. Sunday I went to the drugstore in the area and took my camera with me so I could take pictures if I saw them again. The egret was there (and very camera shy), but no heron. There was a gaggle of very fat geese and I wondered if I could have mistaken one for a heron given the brief glimpse I had.

When I got home, there was a hawk sitting on my back fence. That's not a usual sight. Since I had my camera handy, I took its picture through the windshield. The pictures are quite blurry, but it was a hawk, possibly a sharp-shinned hawk. It flew off when I got out of the car.

Yesterday I was back at the gastroenterologist, again with my camera. The heron was there again, and not so camera shy as the egret, so I got a good picture.

This morning, driving along the interstate to work, I saw two more egrets. When it rains, puddles form in the drainage ditches along the highway, and they love to stand in them. Back in the early 1900's, when egret feathers were all the rage for hats, egrets were in danger of dying out. Now they are common features along our roadsides. I miss hats, but I'm glad the birds survived.

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