Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

It’s all about the birds

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Boardwalk begins the walk.

Boardwalk


This week I spent some time at Kensington Metro Park, one of my favorites around here. I walked around one of the natural areas that prohibits bikes, joggers and dogs. I know, I know. But don’t worry – Katie forgave me when I took her to her own park later in the day. She’s good like that.

The walk around the lake is just under 2 miles and though it was a cool November day, all the leaves had long since fallen, there was still a lot going on. Want to see? Well come on! (And click on any photo to see it larger with detail.)

The walk starts out on the boardwalk near the road. Right away I could see there was a sandhill crane couple standing out along a point. I thought all of the cranes had left the area, heading to warmer climates. But I was wrong. These two were standing in the water right near a bench where people sat to enjoy the view.

Walking near the shore.

Walking near the shore.

While I stood taking pictures several people walked up. The cranes just tilted their heads and watched us. They are so used to being photographed they don’t mind as long as you don’t move too fast. Eventually I moved along, taking the path around the lake. Just a little bit further along the lake edge I came across crane couple #2.

Going for a stroll.

Going for a stroll.

These two were a little more skittish. They moved away from me when I stepped up close to the shoreline. They were in a more secluded location and probably hadn’t had as much attention that morning as the first pair. One of them turned and faced me as if to you….”What you looking at?”

You lookin at ME?

You lookin at ME?

I reassured them that I thought they were beautiful, then I tiptoed back up to the path and moved along.

Back among the trees each time I stopped to take a picture I heard the flurry of wings around my head. There were always chickadees flitting around. The park has all sorts of signs telling people not to feed the wildlife, but I’ve seen, almost every time I’ve been there, people standing still holding out their hands which are filled with sunflower seeds. The chickadees, being such brave little birds, have been accustomed to getting a treat when people stop and stand still.

Hey LADY!!

Hey LADY!!

They expected something from me. I had to apologize to them; I hadn’t brought anything with me.

Further along I came to a hill with a fence and some shrubs still bright green and covered in some sort of red berries.

Follow the path.

Follow the path.

Then I noticed a bird hopping around among the green leaves. What was that? Could it be? Can you tell?

Can you tell what this is?

Can you tell what this is?

I saw the topknot on it’s head, but it wasn’t a female cardinal. It was a cedar waxwing! I only see those in the spring and in the fall, if I’m lucky, when they are migrating through the area. They have a bright yellow strip at the end of their tails, and red bars on their wings, and that’s how I knew for sure what I was seeing.

Can you see the tail?

Can you see the tail?

I stood there fascinated, watching the bird hop around picking red berries off the shrub. Then I began to wonder. Where were the rest? These birds travel in flocks and I’ve never seen only one. There are always several more.

Pretty under side of the bird.

Pretty under side of the bird.

I could only find one other bird among all the leaves. Finally I gave up looking, put my camera away and began to move. The shrub eruppted as dozens of waxwings flew up into the higher trees. It was magical and I laughed out loud.

Thank you little guys!  It was fun!

Thank you little guys! It was fun!

I kept moving along, rounding the back of the lake. The sun began to peak out through the clouds and the sky got brighter. It was a wonderful thing to be walking in the quiet woods on what used to be a work day. I felt very lucky to be there.

Who wouldn't want to be walking here?

Who wouldn’t want to be walking here?

And do you know what I found just a bit further up this beautiful path? You guessed it! Crane couple #3!

Enjoying the sun.

Enjoying the sun.

I’m sure these aren’t either of the couples I saw on the other side of the lake because I hadn’t heard any cranes flying. They can’t seem to keep quiet when they fly, almost always making an eerie screech while they are in the air. This couple didn’t want to be photographed at all, so I only took a quick shot of the two of them together. And this one of one of them headed my way to find out why I was interrupting their quiet time.

Yes I know I'm pretty.

Yes I know I’m pretty.

I said I’d move along, and he seemed fine with that.

When I was close to the beginning of my walk I realized I hadn’t hit the 2 mile mark yet, so I decided to walk over to the nature center before heading to my car parked in their lot. I figured I could use the steps and it was now a full-on beautiful afternoon and I was in no hurry to drive home. And as I approached the back of the museum I saw what I thought was a statue of sandhill cranes. There were three of them, the parents and a juvenile.

Cranes are EVERYWHERE!

Cranes are EVERYWHERE!

And then one of them moved! They were eating birdseed from under the bird feeders. A whole family, right up next to a building with people inside staring out at them. I started to laugh. Silly but opportunistic birds.

Years ago it was rare for me to see one pair of cranes in the park. Back when I used to run there every Saturday I never saw any. Now they seem to be much more plentiful; this summer I have seen many families of cranes, both in this park and near where I live. I wonder if there really are more of them, or if they’ve just moved into more populated areas.

And so this is not all about birds, while at the nature center I walked down to the pond.

You got anything to eat lady?

You got anything to eat lady?

I call this shot “Carp with Oak Leaf” and I think if it were painted in oil it would be a classic. Or something.

As I headed up to the car I ran into one more crane.

Not looking at that sign.

Not looking at that sign.

I think he was making a point of not looking at the sign. No one reads those anyway.

Right?

Pretty bittersweet

Pretty bittersweet

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Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

16 thoughts on “It’s all about the birds

  1. It’s a good day when you can see that many cranes up north in November.

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  2. When we made a trip to the Wildlife Refuge this past February, there were a lot of Sandhill Cranes there too – many more than we’d seen previous years. Interesting. No need to read the sign, because we all know it’s meant for someone else – certainly not me!

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    • I’ve never fed the cranes, or anything else there, but I’ve seen little kids feed the cranes, and I’m sure that is an experience they will never forget. So I can see both sides of it.

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  3. What a lovely walk — thanks for letting me tag along! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cedar waxwing — what beautiful birds! And the cranes? Oh, my, they’re stunning!

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    • Cedar waxwings are very beautiful, such vibrant colors. Don’t get to see them very often though, some years I don’t see them at all. The cranes are absolutely stunning and I’m always thrilled when I get to see them, even now that it’s more frequent.

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  4. Such a beautiful walk! Thank you for taking us along with you. I laughed with you as the cedar waxwings flew out and when you found the cranes at the nature center. The Sandhills are such beautiful birds. “Carp with Oak Leaf” would indeed be a classic. 🙂

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  5. That last pic is so funny 🙂

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  6. What a great walk and a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all these birds. I’d feel guilty taking a walk without the dogs but sometimes it is a good thing – those shots probably wouldn’t have happened with a four legged friend along the way. I do occasionally go without them, I should do something like this too.

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    • Katie isn’t allowed in some of the prettiest places that I know she’d love. On the other hand, it is nice to move at my pace and not hers (which is slower as there is much sniffing to do) and to get photos without her jerking my arm which is attached to her leash. I always feel guilty though when I go without her.

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  7. those are some great photos – we have been watching a family of egrets in our pond this past week – they only have one chick and he is brown where as the parents are both snowy white. We have found many people around here ignore signs too (even us on occasions 🙂

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    • Egrets are beautiful. We have them here, they seem to nest after the blue herons, sometimes using the old heron nests. And we have lots of them in our wetlands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young one though. If I did, I probably didn’t recognize it as an egret. Do the boys bark at the birds in the pond?

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  8. Since joining Instagram earlier in the year, I have seen lots of photos of this place. It looks great.
    I know that most people aren’t fans of November, but your photos are so vibrant, and the light is all so lovely, that I just can’t agree. I rarely photograph birds (I don’t know why…I like to look at bird pictures), but these are terrific! I think my favorite is the last crane ignoring the sign 😉

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    • It’s a wonderful park. There are miles of bike paths if you want to walk or run or bike those…and lots of nature trails too, where dogs, bikes, runners etc are not allowed. Plus picnic areas, swing sets, a golf course, swimming beaches, boat rentals..etc…

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