Last week I shared a (very random) post about our hiking companions. By now, you’re probably disbelieving as to what good a dog could be on a wildlife expedition. After all, they scare all the wildlife off and bark, right?
Actually, it’s fall migration time at the local wetlands right now with the added bonus (read: unfortunate circumstance) that we’re in a drought, so there’s quite a bit of activity around the little lake.
And when you’re in a wild area, it’s not really cultivated to make it easy on you to find things. Like these quail:
There are actually 3 quail in these two pictures (a male in one and two hens in the other). If you’re good at I-Spy, you’ll spot them right off, or you can just give up and look dead center for the brown and buff striped heads of the little birds. Now, there was an entire group of these bobwhite quail wandering along the path, but their low calls to each other were impossible to hear. Except we had dogs who ran to that side of the path and pointed them out to us.
Did the quail care? Heck no! They didn’t even care when I got up right on them to take these terrible pictures. However, in that time, Eli memorized their calls and now knows exactly where all the quail are in all of our trips. It’s kind of like what he does with deer now.
We also saw some of the fall regulars wandering around the lake:
Ring-billed ducks have been coming out in droves, along with a few northern shovelers. Early in the fall, the redheads come through, and then the Canada geese and green-winged teals visit, though the smaller ducks are pretty shy of us.
My favorite water birds by far, though, are the pied-billed grebes and the great blue herons.
This blue heron isn’t our fishing buddy, but he does like to stand around and watch the dogs play occasionally. What you don’t see in this picture is a friend and two dogs not 3 yards away from him.
We were also very surprised one day by what looked like a white fish flailing around in the shallow water at the north end of the lake. While my buddies and the dogs watched, I skipped precariously over fallen branches and mud pits to see what exactly it was. Turns out it was a huge common snapping turtle that was so big he couldn’t quite get all the way underwater despite his best efforts, so every time he tried to get underwater, he wouldn’t quite get all the way covered.
It’s not all about crazy dogs and cool wildlife, though. Sometimes it’s about the peaceful atmosphere, the clashing foliage, and the birdsong. Because there’s always time in the day to take a step back and smell the ragweed pollen.