No Black Friday sales for us. Although, I did snag a pretty good deal on an oil change. Call me sentimental that way. No, we avoided the crush of the malls in favor of becoming attuned to nature today. Anne and I trekked up to the Riverlands, our favorite neighborhood bird sanctuary. At first, it looked like we might have to go home empty-handed, but then we spied the pictured quartet of pelicans. We were circling around to the designer bird blind on the backside of Heron Pond, when we found the swans. There were easily a hundred of them. They were sitting out in some farmer’s cornfield, among the stubble, just sleeping or munching on the remains of this year’s corn crop. They like to forage in the surrounding cornfields during the day, but then return to the Riverlands before nightfall. They were quite content being there, at least until some mourners arrived to pay their respects at a small nearby rural cemetery. It wasn’t the mourners themselves that riled the swans, but their Great Dane. First in ones and twos, but soon with gathering numbers the swans took flight and scattered further afield, away from the dog. We never did make it to the Wash U architecture school designed bird blind, but we’ve seen it before. The big news of the day wasn’t the birds though. We discovered another wildlife refuge, Cora Island, which is part of the Big Muddy refuge. That’s right, Cora Island is on the Missouri River, while the neighboring Riverlands is on the Mississippi and in-between them both is Ted Jones State Park. Which is on both rivers, because it is at the confluence of these two mighty rivers. From the parking lot, we walked to Cora Island, but couldn’t cross over to it. The water is rather high right now, but we’ll come back again and explore this place some more later.