Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck leads the flock to fly and follow.
Yes, another non-paddling post! This would have been a fine paddling day but I need to replace the electrical connection on the kayak trailer before I use it again (involving a long drive to civilization to find such an exotic item); therefore, I decided to take a drive out to the refuge to see what I could see.
There were ducks of various kinds. Lots and lots of ducks. This bufflehead was very striking in the blue water, and swimming alone.
I walked around the inland pond near the lighthouse. This widgeon was in with a few coots.
Then I came to a larger gathering of ducks.
And then, at the first bend in the trail as it circles the pond, I came to a very large gathering of mostly coots, with others mixed in.
I continued walking along the trail between the pond and the channel that leads to the boat ramp. When I got about halfway along it, I saw a large bird swooping over the grasses at the far side. That is the side next to the park road. The large bird was an eagle. I was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time, whereas some lucky person walking on the road had a wonderful view.
I watched the eagle as it hovered over the grass and dove in, repeating this process several times.
It then circled over the water.
I walked a little farther and then turned to see if the eagle was still in the area looking for lunch. I saw it coming toward me, carrying what I assumed was a fish that it had plucked from the pond. It flew nearly directly overhead and I took a number of photos of it. After it had gone, I reviewed the photos in the camera's LCD screen. Hmmm...the eagle had been successful indeed....unfortunately it was not a fish it had been going after, but rather one of the hundreds of coots in the pond. While I got a vivid photo of it in flight with its catch, it's not a photo I want to post here. Funny how I would have been fine if the eagle was returning to its nest to feed on a fish but I'm not fine when it is a duck....
So I walked on.
A few ducks flew overhead.
Then a few more.
Then a lot more.
I reached the park road and began walking along it back to the parking lot. This egret was perched near the water on the other side from the pond.
I got back to my car and began slowly driving out of the refuge. There was a guy taking photos of something at a little grassy picnic spot near one of the many small ponds along the road. Of course I stopped to see what had interested him. Turned out that a gator was sunning itself in the grass near the water.
The guy (David, I believe he said his name was) asked if I had gotten the photo I wanted, since he wanted to get closer. I said great! I'll get him getting you! And he went in for a closer photo. I thought it might be better to just invest in a bigger lens...
Then a woman (Priscilla) showed up, and there were three of us and the gator. She set up her tripod and we talked while she took a few photos. Then David decided he wanted to get even closer. I think at this point the gator was feeling seriously outnumbered by annoying humans and it dove into the water. We talked for a while more, and Priscilla left. The gator swam out and then back, and then got out of the water again and lay on the grass right at the edge. When I left, David was going in for more photos of it. I guess we would have heard by now if he didn't survive the second session.
I made one more stop on my way out, unable to resist this great blue heron standing in the sun.
I'm off on a camping (but not paddling) trip tomorrow and so won't be paddling this week. Hopefully I can get my replacement part for the trailer soon and get back out next week. Stand by.