As I arrive in Forest park for the day’s adventure, the egret who had been patrolling the east side of Jefferson lake, takes off suddenly, a blur of white rising from the water’s edge, but to my right I spy a cardinal feeding in an elm tree, the red of his coat vivid against the rich green of the tree in which he feasts. He perches confidently on a narrow branch, plucking seeds and gorging himself. As I start to walk south beside the lake’s edge, out flies a Kingfisher from a nearby tree chattering excitedly. He makes a loop around the lake to the north and then heads south, away from me.
My movement startles a female cardinal who was feeding on the bank, and she jumps into a nearby tree. She doesn’t seem too threatened by my presence, however, as she sticks around and poses for my camera in a very obliging way.
A little further south, a mama robin is sitting in a nest in one of the wispy little trees by the lake. I spy her, she spies me, and it is a standoff of sorts. Her nest is tossed about by the wind, making it difficult for me to get a photo. Each time I move up or along the bank to get a better view, the leaves are blown in front of my lens, almost as if mother nature is conspiring to hide mother robin from me!
Last night’s rain and storm has made the ground quite soggy; perfect boot weather. The moist earth sucks at my feet as I walk, squish, squish, squish. The air is cool enough and the wind is strong enough to make my hands cold, so I put my gloves on. It was just last week that I thought I had put coat and gloves away for the season!
Near the south end of the lake I meet Pearlene. She is fishing, her orange poncho bright against the cool greens and golds of spring. So far, she tells me, she hasn’t caught anything, but she is hopeful! The catch is not as important, she continues, as the relaxation it gives her.
Almost to the lake’s south end, I find another robin on her nest and following a pathway through the reeds that surround her tree I get a few photos. At the southernmost tip of the lake, a snowy egret is hunting his lunch. As I get closer I see he is standing on the bank gulping some of it down. I stay a while to get some photos and discover a green heron is keeping him company. The green heron takes off when I get too close and since the wind is picking up with a little bit of rain, I do a duck walk up the steep bank to Wells Drive, walk over to the steps that lead down to the water’s edge and head north along the west bank, back towards my car.
Two ambulances scream their way to the Barnes Jewish emergency room, their sirens echoing around the towers of the hospital. They arrive, the sirens abruptly cut off, and I hear the birds again.
A tree by the side of the lake has blown over on the landward side, its upturned roots betraying the lack of a firm foundation. I step into the water to get a better photo and my boots stir up a sulfurous scent from the muck on the lake’s floor. A group of geese fuss and honk, maybe at me, maybe at each, and quite close to them a great egret continues his search for food. Slowly and carefully stalking the edge of the pond, he makes a quick splash here, and a quick splash there, and be it fish or frog, down the trap it goes, faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! In a few moments, he soars to the lake’s center and it occurs to me I ought to get back to work.