Monday, April 25, 2011


There is something so refreshing and so great a promise that spring and summer in some form will arrive in the north country. This past weekend was like that. Although our hopes were to see a heron rookery, which we did not, we certainly saw waterfowl and shorebirds.

Something has happened. Just a few short years ago, there were only a few swans and wood ducks. Imagine our surprise to see wood duck pairs in more place than one. We even talked to a man who sits in his dining room window and watches several swimming near the resort. He reminded us how very skittish they are. They are gone before you can raise the lens of your camera.

The mergansers are back and the female with her red feathered head, (some feather's even sticking out) are so fun to watch. She looks like she runs the show and moves about while her mate seems to have no clue. SEEMS. She was having a bad hair day. Until this weekend, I thought the red head was the male!

We saw our first loon at Park Rapids as we crossed the bridge over Fish Hook River. What a site. I get excited and could only point. The killdeer run through the brown grass, still hard to see because of their coloring. The Northern Shoveler with its big big swam with its head down, almost as if its bill was too heavy. He was, of course, straining food from the lake.

But my favorite sight of all was two Mallard drakes with a female. And just who was going to be the man who got her. They swam in circles with the female aside as if to say good grief. Tom said there is an art to getting a picture of Mallard's in the swamp. Mostly it was inching along on the road looking for a place to poke the lens through and find something to aim at and wait for the ducks to circle.

Swamps, of course, are full of dead trees, over hanging mini branches, dried foliage next to the road, and there is no X that says, FOR A PICTURE, STAND HERE. Well, if you get out of the vehicle, they will disappear, so you stay in the vehicle, find something to aim at deep enough in and hope all the clutter is only on the edges.

By the time we go to the lake again, all the stuff that looks dead but isn't will have greened up making the Mallard's world a little safer from a yellow truck with two old folks holding their breathe as they watch one little part of mother nature's world. Refreshing. Stand still moments.

But then, maybe the white tail deer standing next to a tree near the road will be easier to see. As it was, he blended so well that it took me awhile to even see him. He did not move, twitch his ears, or blink. He just stood there. Well, with a group of friends, as when he did scamper off, we saw five flags instead of just one.


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