Posted by: pilgrm34 | October 10, 2011

great egrets

It is overcast and rainy at Smith-Bybee Wetland—a good time for wildlife viewing. Shrinking Bybee Lake is now partly mudflats. Through trees, large, startlingly white herons become visible, their sleek, ivory outline sharply contrasting with the murky dimness causes by dark clouds. At least twenty motionless great egrets, and one great blue dot the lake surface and muddy expanse. Soon one of the hunters subtly shifts position, takes a slow motion step or flaps colossal wings, disturbing the frozen scene. I stop to chat with birdwatchers who say they observed one catch an eel, while another snagged a swift mired on the mudflat. Once prey comes within range, it rarely escapes.

each white dot is great egret

great egret from http://www.willings.net

On the way back I stop at the viewpoint overlooking the lake’s slough-like backwater. A brown, furry, head swims toward me but abruptly disappears, replaced by the butt and a thin black tail before the animal completely vanishes beneath the surface. The head emerges again fifteen feet to my right and dives again. By the size and tail, I can tell it’s a muskrat. Water rings give away his location as he surfaces to gobble tiny algae-like plants twenty feet off shore. A larger plump twin traverses two logs on shore across the brackish water. It toddles clumsily to the shoreline, enters the water and instantly morphs into a swift moving, barely visible submarine, able to move forward or backward, on the surface or beneath it with equal ease.

muskrat

path to Bybee Lake viewpoint

near the lake

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