I had one chance a few years ago to attend the Heron Festival and ride a pontoon boat to go bird-watching. It was so terrific. We saw a very rare bird called a bittern, which I got one pretty lousy picture of! I had such a great day bird-watching and enjoying the lake that day!
Down the road from us, a pair of Osprey has a nest on a special platform provided by the county just for them to use (to keep them out of the electrical wires). Every spring, I watch for signs of their return, and watch when the babies start poking their heads above the nest, and spreading their wings getting ready for eventual take-off. I'm pretty sure one day my car will be rear-ended, because I just stop in the middle of the road around a sharp corner, looking at the nest and hoping to spot the "little" ones. Sadly, I learned that the male was electrocuted and died last year. I hope Mama either finds a new mate, or one of her babies takes over the nest next year. I really look forward to seeing them.
I think there is also a pair that nests in a tree in our back yard, but I have yet to actually verify the presence of a nest (I think I see it but maybe it's just a spot with a lot of leaves… eventually I'll figure it out) so maybe it's the platform pair out hunting. I don't know their range.
We have a pretty great selection of birds right here in the yard. We keep a finch feeder, several hummingbird feeders (no red food coloring, please), a few feeders full of wild bird seed, and a box made by The Woodpecker for suet cakes. During breakfast, guests get a great show by watching all the birds take advantage of the variety of food we leave out for them. There is even a family of quail that wander through the garden in the morning and evening, scratching and picking up what the other sloppy birds have dropped.
I’ve had the very wonderful opportunity to get out on the lake three times now with Faith of http://www.eyesofthewild.us — twice as part of a “mermaid day” with a group of lovely ladies. We bring lunch and wine, and jewelry to trade, and have such fun bird-watching, soaking up the sun, and cooling off with a dip in the lake.
Last week, Faith invited me to join a small group while she went out scoping the lake for winter birding sites. Faith gets visitors from all over the world book lake days with her to photograph the birds and other wildlife at the lake. So, although most of those excursions are in the summer, Faith is on the lake just about weekly to keep track of what there is to see, and the potential best places for the tours.
We got to go up in to Shirley Slough, which is too shallow for the boat during the summer. This is the home of a great Great Blue Heron rookery and I’ve also see Green Herons as well as many other birds there. In fact, that’s where I saw the bittern!
There is just no feeling quite like peacefully floating in the lake with grebes pairing up all around. It’s so exciting to watch them dance their dances and hear them call their calls. Faith said this year should be a good one for the grebes. I hope so; I so love watch them from our dock while they dance on the water and carry their babies on their backs.
If you’re looking for a very different sort of adventure you can book a tour with Eyes of the Wild and, perhaps, see something that you haven’t seen before. You know your journey won’t be for the birds. Wait, actually it will!