Big Baby Mergansers

Mergansers In Front of the Cabin

Anne and I walked the beach this afternoon. As soon as I popped out of the woods, I spied a flock of mergansers and more importantly they spotted me too. They were directly in front of the cabin and before they got too far away, I got several el primo pics of them. I liked this one the best, because it doesn’t look like they are swimming away from me and you can see them in profile. There were actually about a dozen of the babies all told, but with of the combination of their fleeing and the intervening bouncing waves, I only managed to capture half of them in this photo, six babies in the frame are better than twelve out of focus.

This morning, Anne joined Gina and Dashie for yoga. I stayed at the cabin with the Units. Doesn’t cook. Won’t bite. In-between Harry and Gene’s morning ritual I snuck into the kitchen, heated some water and toasted a bagel. The water was for a cup of Starbuck’s instant latté (Val, thanks for the steer!) and the bagel was a Thomas everything bagel, which I slathered with whipped cream cheese. I made my escape again to the sleeping porch, with no one else being the wiser.

This all reminds me of a story that I would like to relate here. Year’s ago, when I still worked for a certain defense contractor in Saint Louis, which had decided to institute random drug testing, one of my buddies at work, who had gotten on the outs with the department manager, who had the authority to order these tests. My bud was “randomly” chosen trice and passed all three times. I too had my run in with this guy and soon enough it my turn in the barrel.

I reported to the nurse and obligingly peed in a cup. A few days later, I was again summoned, “Sir, your test came back positive.” “I can explain, I had a bagel for breakfast that morning, which had poppy seeds on it.” “Sir, I’ll set that excuse aside for the time being. While, poppy seeds might explain the opioids that we found, they certainly don’t explain the crack or meth.” “But m’am, it was an everything bagel.” 😉

Birds on the Brain

In Front of Cabin Loon

Anne got me up early today and we walked the beach before breakfast. On our walk, we first heard the loon and when we went in search of it, it dove and circled around behind us. It wasn’t until we had turned and were almost back to the cabin that I spied it and then captured this distant, but still decent picture of it. It dove again and can hold its breath for a long time and was not seen again.

The loon was serendipity. They are relatively rare around here, but what are more plentiful are mergansers. The following also distant, but still decent picture shows a mother merganser, with her about half-dozen chicks on her back. She and they were in the mist of fending off a seagull attack at the time.

Mother Merganser with Chicks on Her Back

The one unique to here large bird that I have not been able to capture yet are the Sandhill Cranes. I need to begin intensifying my search for them, because soon they will begin departing. We’ve seen a few, but circumstance have just not permitted our photographing any of them yet. Anyway, we’ll keep looking.

We have a new spotter scope that we’ve bought, but its unwieldiness combined with all of the mosquitoes that are about have made it relatively useless so far. Expeditions to Seney NWR are on the agenda. We did some excellent birding there last year and I hope for a repeat this summer. 

I am always surprised that I have taken up birding as a hobby. I always thought of it as an old person’s activity, but then, I’m an old person now. So, I guess I was right. Except that this hobby makes me feel young again, plus there is a community to participate in, which only enhances the experience and the community frequently includes real young people. I love sharing the thrill of the hunt. Be it just Anne and I or a whole throng of birders.

Today, we waded the short end of the beach. We scared most of the mergansers off the rocks, at the end of the beach, but were able to come quite closely to the one that remained. Having enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, plus the cooling lake water that we were wading through, we backed off before spooking this last bird. It is better to runaway to then hunt another day.

In a Fog

Manitoulin Creeping out of the Fog

I awoke in a fog this morning, literally. Overnight, both Canada and Round Island had disappeared and the lake boats that ply the shipping channel in-between them were tooting their fog horns. The forecast called for the fog to last most of the day, but by late morning the island reappeared and then so did Canada, but looking out across the lake the fog persisted. By this time a new squadron of down bound freighters were tooting at each other. Actually, this being the weekend, they were probably trying to ward off pleasure craft lost in their own fog and could see each other plainly on radar. The Manitoulin was the first to appear and with its large white superstructure, it made a dramatic appearance, floating ghostly white above the fog bank, with its darker hull effectively hidden from view.

Eventually, the rest of the fog burned off and it became a rather nice beach day. Bubs and Harry came down to the beach, at least as far as Bill’s Adirondack chairs. Anne went for a dip and not a moment after she had been commended by the neighbors for bravely venturing out into the water, her mother admonished her for being out to far. I waded out to her rescue and we moved up the beach, into shore, around behind some pine trees and out of mother’s sight. We spent the better part of the afternoon visiting with Brigid, Chris, Lisa and her kids.

We are going to join them in a book club this summer, at least for one round. The book is “Perfect Match”, Jodi Picoult’s 2002 novel about pedophile priests, child sexual abuse and murder. You can’t forget about murder. Not my usual cup of tea, but I’m still game to try it. I ordered the book from Amazon, but up here my Prime membership’s free two-day delivery stretches into four. I ordered the paperback version and not the Kindle, because first it was cheaper and second, others who wouldn’t use Kindle might want to read the book too. Purchase of the paperback come with limited electronic access to the book. This is designed to tie you over until the delivery is made. I’m sure that the text is budgeted for two-day delivery, so it will likely run out before the book is delivered. What if it doesn’t? What does that say about my reading ability?