Herons take flight

I headed for the trail about 9:00 this morning. I wanted to hang out with the herons, but six left the nests and flew overhead as I reached the footbridge, so I was sure I was too late. No matter... today is one of those perfect, you-can-smell-spring sort of mornings, and I was just glad to be out enjoying it.

In just two days, the skunk cabbage was starting to emerge from the marshes and the creek beds, beautiful slender yellow tubes with bright green leaves. I love them, especially this time of year... they don't smell yet! The springs are still running strong, filling the tiny streams that run downhill to the main creek, streams that will dry up in a few months. I love how the leaf litter fills the ditches, making interesting patterns in the water.

I walked south toward the lake, looking for more heron nests. At a picnic table right at water's edge, a pair of Mallards came up on dry land, looking for crumbs. Too early in the year for picnics, but they were hopeful.

I headed back toward the car, and just as I walked past the heronry, the sky suddenly filled with birds, lifting up out of the marsh, herons flying and squawking, soaring overhead. Fortunately my camera was already set to infinity, and I was lucky to get a shot. I've never seen so many herons at one time; at least forty birds were in flight.

The herons landed in three or four trees, still squawking as they settled down in their perches. Most relaxed and pulled up one leg, and went to sleep.

I waited around to see what came next in this bird ballet; one by one they took off and flew back to the nests, or landed back in the marsh.

I stood there and watched as the birds took off, squawking, soaring around... and of all the people on the trail this morning, only one other person noticed.

It's sad how many people treat this trail as just a place to get some exercise. I see them flying by on bicycles, walking or jogging, blinders on, ignoring the park completely. It's just a blacktop path close to home, convenient. They never see the beauty around them. Of all the people who passed me on the trail while the herons were flying, only one person even noticed them. He stopped next to me as the birds soared overhead, completely in awe.

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