Out at my favorite park on a whim, no birdseed in my pockets, I wander the perimeter of the swampy lake on a hot humid August evening. Every time I stop to watch something a flurry of small birds hovers around my head hoping for handouts. Sorry, I’ve got nothing on me little guys!
Soon I come across this guy standing near the boardwalk.
There had been a thunderstorm just before I arrived, and this great blue heron was preening and rearranging his feathers. Probably watching the shallows for dinner too.
He didn’t like that I was walking so close, even though I was moving quietly. I knew he would be rising up in flight at any moment so I set my camera on sport the better to take a series of shots in a hurry.
Still I couldn’t keep him in the frame, and he’s hard to see against the waterlily filled background.
He flew over to the island filled with the rookery where he probably was born. He was not a happy camper, squawking all the way.
I continued on my way, up a path on the far side of the lake. There’s a bench out there with a view of the rookery. I thought I’d sit a bit and see what happened next.
Sitting on the little wooden bench about 5 feet from the shore, out on a little point of land, I was focused on these two egrets fishing for their supper…
…when suddenly I realized there were two sandhill cranes just to the left of the egrets. And before I could fully register that thought they both lifted up and flew. Right at me.
I kept shooting, but it was hard to see them against the busy backdrop of the lily pads on the lake.
And they kept flying right for me, landing on the shore in front of me!
I sat still on the bench, my camera clicking away. Both of them started up the bank toward me, moving at a good clip.
The second one stopped for a minute to shake like a dog. Guess he or she had a wet landing.
Meanwhile the one in the lead was walking right past me, close enough I could have reached out and touched it.
But I didn’t. He or she was on a mission – both were focused on where they wanted to go. I kept shooting images as they walked past me and on up the path.
They settled in not far away, both of them pulling something off of bushes along the path.
I sat quietly watching them stretch their necks up to eat. They moved to the other side of the path and continued eating.
It was just the three of us out there on that point of land enjoying the dinner hour. They didn’t care one bit that I was there, and I enjoyed watching them forage.
And then? Well, then my memory card filled up.
So I quietly walked away while they were still eating. I was smiling. How lucky was I to be sitting there when they decided to drop in for supper.
It was just a whim to visit the park after looking for barns and clouds. It was just a whim to walk along the rookery, to walk out to that spit of land, to sit on that bench for a bit.
Wow. Sometimes it really does pay to follow your heart.