I climb the hill at the western end of Lagoon Drive upon which the Cascades are situated, and in the woods there I find bits of trash and broken glass, empty cigarette packs, smashed beer cans, a bottle or two, a Cheetos wrapper, some old metal sign posts, a bit of clothing, empty Styrofoam cups, and the other signs of too close an association with man. But in those same woods the red buds blossom, the trees sprout new golden-green leaves, the sound of the water flowing down the hill crowds out the noise of the city. There’s a pungent aroma from the mulch from the Daffodil beds at the bottom of the hill that permeates the trees and robins, sparrows and squirrels flit along the floor of the forest.
I leave the Cascades and park by the Grand Basin where I am greeted by the sight of a great egret alighting on the bank of one of the golf course ponds for a brief moment before flying to the other side. Another egret soars past and lands near a neighboring pond.
A female banded kingfisher chatters by, swooping low over the pond’s surface before soaring up to land in a nearby tree. Before I have a moment to get a photo, she moves to another tree and perches just long enough for me to get three pictures as she balances on the wind-swayed branch. Then she takes off across Lagoon Drive toward picnic island.
Birds are flying every which direction; the little birds hopping from tree to tree. I hear a woodpecker’s hammering and looking around I see a flash of red and black. He is creeping up the side of a nearby tree. This bird loiters and I manage to get quite a few shots, realizing halfway through that there are two red headed woodpeckers quite close to each other in this tree.
Across the bridge to Picnic Island, swallows are soaring all around. A robin lands on a sapling nearby and sings as a woodpecker continues his hammering in the background. On Post Dispatch lake geese float together in a quiet armada of goose solidarity. A tree swallow lands on a bird box nearby and looks me over. As I make photos of him his friends swoop by and tell him just how dangerous we humans are, and he, to play it safe, follows their example and flies across the lake to wildlife island.
I continue my wandering looking at the holes in the lake shore and the empty shells of bivalves littering the banks that make me think the muskrat population is alive and well, even though so far I have not seen one.
It is under the lagoon drive bridge by Langenberg field that I see the solitary sandpiper. He is not only by himself, but the common name of his species, Tringa solitaria is solitary sandpiper. Did I mention the killdeer, the white duck and all the swallows under the bridge? It is a happy birds day indeed!