With too much stress and anxiety for my own good, I decided this morning required a diversion. That meant a walk at the lake. You can rest assured I had my camera with me.
The wind blew against me with just enough bite to keep me moving, or at least interested in moving, and the fresh air did tremendous good considering I’ve remained cooped up at home for three weeks while suffering with and recuperating from The Plague. Although I still have a nasty, persistent cough, it finally is going away. So too is the congestion and associated headache, although my nose remains sore to the touch from the abuse it’s withstood lo these many days.
Still, I enjoyed being out near the lake, nature surrounding me on all sides, a brisk wind and cool temperatures caressing me. I needed to be outside—really outside, not just quick explorations to my own patio for fear traveling further from safety would leave me unable to return, or too weak to get about.
So I walked. For nearly three hours I basked in morning sunshine and a too-warm winter day. It rejuvenated me more than I anticipated, yet likewise it drained more energy from my apparently still exhausted body. All the same, I wanted—nay, I needed the escape. And I had missed the wondrous spectacle Mother Nature always has on display right here outside my own door.
The lake welcomed me back like an old friend. Its voice lapped calmly at the shore and its hands offered up a plethora of wildlife to enjoy. Even the flora, a great deal of which already has gone to sleep for winter, stood ready to receive me. It had been too long.
While standing near one of the piers watching various fowl come and go, I chanced upon a bird I had not seen before. I at first mistook them for American coots (Fulica americana) because I was watching them from very far away and through shoreline plants that blended the background together in confusing patters. I approached and reached a position giving me a clearer view and closer distance. Only then did I realize they indeed were not coots. But what were they?
When finally I stood near the shore and could see clearly around the foliage, I realized they were ducks, but I had never seen this particular species before. A beautiful duck of blacks and grays and whites in abrupt patters—with a hint of blue painted on its bill—I found them mesmerizing, stunning even, at least in that captivating way nature so often provides.
I snapped several photos of the creatures as they swam and bobbed next to the pier and a stone’s throw from the shore. They mingled and mixed with the litany of other birds at the lake just as one would expect. I then continued my journey but kept in the back of my mind a reminder that I must identify these little newcomers to my world.
After walking for hours and capturing photos and videos along the way, I tired and grew too weary to remain outdoors in the blowing wind. So I came home and immediately set about learning what waterfowl had graced me earlier in the day.
They are lesser scaups (Aythya affinis), a small diving duck. Still, a duck by any other name floats just as well. Or so I assume.
It’s yet another beastie I can add to my library (in digital form, I mean) and one I will be able to recognize in the future.
Additionally, and as I inferred, I grabbed quite a few photos and even a few videos while I roamed the local wildlife refuge. I even grabbed some of my favorite tree, although the poor thing is stark naked and was most likely embarrassed by the intrusion of its privacy. As always, I’ll filter through the images (moving and still). Those I find good enough to share will make it here in the future.