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Blomme: A foggy morning, patience and a camera to capture the moment

The warm fall means some of our winged summer friends stuck around a little longer
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With the extended unseasonably warm fall, the early morning fog was to be expected. It is 7 a.m. and the sun has started to rise, but the thick fog is suppressing the rays from lighting up my world.

Two photographers are set up with tripods at the bridge between the two lakes. They have great patience. 

Sometimes you can get magnificent effects of lighting as the sun rises, but this morning the fog is too thick to give a red ball delight. I signal and pull the car way over to allow for the early birds that have forgotten their second coffee. Don’t want a mishap.

There are trees along the stream connecting the two lakes. A great blue heron gives its guttural squawk as it flies along. It is going to land, but sees me at the last second and veers off to a second location a little further away.

There are slight noises in the woods. A quick warning click and a robin-sized bird moves a few feet into the staghorn sumac. I freeze, motionless and wait to see if the bird will pop up to have a second look at me. It perches at eye level just behind some leaves: a brown thrasher! 

I can see about 20 feet ahead of me as I walk down the well-worn trail, but the fog is debilitating. A half-made call from the small cluster of willows to the right indicate there are a few song sparrows there.

They nest in the area during the summer, but will be migrating south as soon as we get the frost and cold that limits the insects from becoming readily available. The young are brown and streaked and not fully developed feather-wise, giving them the name of little brown jobs, LBJs to the novice birder. 

There is a rudimentary chair constructed of wood that was washed ashore along the lake. 

All along the shore there is a band of cattails that helps keep me hidden as I approach the myriad of ducks sitting on the water. I take my seat. Silhouettes of dark forms move through the low light. Calls are made as they dabble through the floating mats of aquatic vegetation.

I know there are several species here as I have visited the place regularly. Although most of us are familiar with the mallards that stay at the local parks, sometimes all winter, there are other puddlers about.

Gadwall and American wigeon are in large flocks on the lake as they gather in preparation for a more southerly flight. Northern shovellers, with their large, flat, spatula- like bills, are well represented. Two northern pintails have joined the menagerie in the last week, as they too fatten up with the rich food sources within the lake. 

Further out, the area is populated by diving ducks, but these are obliterated by the dense fog. Redhead, bufflehead and common goldeneye will be seen when the day is cleared. There are more birds out here, but too many names will spoil the broth. These last warm fall days need to be savoured and each beautiful morning appreciated.

On my return I notice the two photographers are gone. This mourning the fog was too much. Perhaps tomorrow… 

Chris editor@sudbury.comBlomme is an executive member of the Sudbury Ornithological Society and works with animals at Laurentian University. Have a question for Chris? Send it to editor@sudbury.com.



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