Posted by: pilgrm34 | October 13, 2011

egret congregation

The Columbia Slough is exhaling: the current ebbing westward toward rivers and ocean. Three double-crested cormorants have commandeered an upturned tree trunk near the bridge. One is resting pleasantly with wings splayed to catch the mid day sun, warming itself. The other two exit and swim in the opposite direction looking back at me in unison first with their head turned right and then left and repeat. I wonder if they have eyes that work separately, able to scan each side like my hens. The cormorant still on the tree trunk closes his wings and watches, seemingly unwilling to leave his sunny post. As I move my bike, he flaps noisily over the water, slapping the surface.

I continue bicycling and learn from a kiosk at Smith-Bybee Wetland that a group of herons is known as a congregation. It sounds much better than gaggle, though bringing to mind hymnals, ladies hats and gloves. White herons, or great egrets, gather in congregations to hunt in the Fall. As Bybee Lake comes into view I see their white shapes hunkered together resting on the far shore—more than twenty. Their startling alabaster contrasts with the dark landscape and mudflat the waning lake has left behind. It is comforting somehow to follow their rhythms and cycle of being—it makes me feel grounded. Is that because the human world is so contrived?

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