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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Oct 4, 2012

October at the pond

October pond
Fall is not just about migration, it is about changes in nature as well as weather, and also of gatherings. I discovered the truth of this on the first day of this month when I visited the twin ponds on the south side.

The weather was gloomy and windy. It was very quiet.  There was very little to see in the way of wildlife at first, and I really didn't expect to see much, but it never pays to assume anything when you are out visiting with nature.

The gathering started so slowly that I really didn't catch on right away.
European Starling
It began with my sighting of a lone Starling up in the tree tops.  Where there is one, there is usually more and I soon spotted a small flock, but I was distracted by the sound of some shorebirds behind me.  I love watching shorebirds and I so rarely get to see them, that my attention was immediately diverted.   I was surprised to discover that more than a dozen Greater Yellowlegs were busy feeding and chasing each other all over both of the ponds.

Greater Yellowlegs chasing one another
Greater Yellowlegs searching for food among the rocks
 Some were even resting on sunken logs.

Greater Yellowlegs at rest
I watched them with delight for quite some time and then a couple of Blue Herons arrived.  One was an adult, the other a Juvenile.  I startled the Adult into flight quite unintentionally, but the juvenile didn't seem to be bothered by my presence, as long as I didn't move too quickly.  Trust me when I tell you that I learned  how to stalk the Heron without catching it's attention more than briefly.

The Adult Blue Heron
In the beginning, I ended up sitting under the low branches of a young tree, which was surrounded by some dense bushes that made a nice natural blind. Here I watched the Juvenile Blue Heron hunt for his breakfast for a good long while. It was fascinating, as Herons seem to have endless patience when it comes to hunting prey.

Great Blue Heron Juvenile
Juvenile Heron caught a small fish
Before long I heard the voices of ducks and I looked to the other side of the pond, where some very unfamiliar but duck-like shapes were sitting all in a row on the concrete pipe that allows water to flow from one pond to the next. 

Ducks all in a row

In order to get closer to see what species they were, because I can't wear my glasses when I'm taking photos, I had to get around the Juvenile Heron.  I didn't want to startle him into flight however, so I moved only when his attention was on a fish in the pond.  It seemed to take forever, but while I was sneaking past him, I was rewarded with some closer photos of him.  Trust me when I tell you, I have no problem with that.

Juvenile Great Blue-close up
While more ducks were arriving on the larger pond, I discovered the three ducks on the other side of this pond were either female, or juvenile Common Merganser ducks.  I was delighted.  The last time I saw a Common Merganser, it was a male of the species and that was several years ago. I have never before seen a female or juvenile, which made this encounter rather special.

Merganser ducks
Shaking off the water
The Common Merganser duck is apparently a very quick flier.  I don't know exactly what startled them into flight, but fly they did.  They reminded me of one of those huge french jets at take off, or a loosed bullet, as you can see below.

Mimicking a Concord
The next species to arrive, were the Canada Geese.  They did so in tens, and pairs, and groups of four or five.  It didn't take long for the larger of the ponds to be filled by dozens of geese.

A pair
Canada geese arriving
Over my head
Canada geese gathering to rest, feed and bathe
Some of the smaller birds had also arrived while I was focused on the larger species.  These were mostly White throated Sparrows, but there were also Swainson's Thrush, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Swainson's thrush

White throated Sparrow
There was so much more to see and share from that day.  For one thing the fall colors at the pond were gorgeous, but I will have to leave that for a future post. In the meantime, if you wish a closer look at the photos above, just click to enlarge.

Susan   -->


  1. Wow Susan, what a very productive day for what seemed so quiet in the beginning. One never knows what will show up! Thanks for sharing this post, it sure made me smile.

  2. Susan, thank you for taking us along on your pond adventure. Though it started off slow, you were able to see some stunning birds. Your photographs are simply beautiful! I particularly like the heron images with the pretty fall colors. All are lovely, though. Sounds like you had a very enjoyable day viewing nature.