First Kayak Outing of 2011 — and Herons too!

Ahhh, finally on the water again - I'm alive!

Today we took our kayaks to Big Seven Lake in Holly, Michigan. It was one of our favorite lakes to kayak last year, and it didn’t disappoint today either. It’s not too big and not too small — about 180 acres I think. And while the beach creates quite a bit of noise pollution, we found that we could minimize its negative effect by going behind one of the small islands or heading to one of the far coves. And this lake doesn’t seem to have much motorboat traffic, but plenty of other kayakers. Nice.

It was a horrid 90 degrees today with high humidity, so it was great to be out on the water where I could dip a hand or foot in to cool off. And we found plenty of shady shoreline when we needed a break from the sun.

Looking for that Great Blue Heron

We always get excited to see herons when we kayak, and today was no different. We were watching a Great Blue Heron wading along the shore for a few minutes, and saw him catch a small fish. Then he climbed up into the woods and Eric drifted off to explore further along the shoreline. But I used my binoculars to continue watching the heron as he walked a few feet inside the woods, parallel to the shore. After about 50 yards he came close to the shore again and I could tell he was sneaking up on the fish. Sure enough, I saw him freeze in his tracks for a few seconds before his head shot down into the water, his huge wings spreading out for balance. He came up with a rather nice-sized fish in his bill too. I was thrilled to see this type of hunting behavior, as I thought herons always fished by standing in the water, didn’t you? I waved to Eric so he could come back to see it too, and we watched the bird repeat this stalking/catching act three more times, each time coming up with a fish. I’d say he got a full belly today. Wish I’d had my camera with me, but at least I had the binocs so I could see him up close in all his glory.

Great Blue Heron - this pic from Davison Lake in 2010

I got a new life bird today too — an Eastern Kingbird. Cool.

We saw several turtles basking on logs in the water. They had such distinctive coloring that it was easy to ID them when I got back to the computer. They were Eastern Painted Turtles!  (Wow, today must be “Eastern” everything day!)

In other, not-so-happy, birding news, we found a dead Eastern Wood Pewee on our deck the other day. He had apparently crashed into the window and broken his neck. Poor little guy. It’s a shame that the first time I saw a Pewee had to be like this. I buried him in the woods. RIP little guy.

I seem to be obsessed with identifying everything I see these days — birds (dead or alive), wildflowers, and now turtles. What next, rocks?! Hmmm….there ARE lots of those around here….

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