The migratory birds and water fowl are making their way north and passing through our area. Here are a few that have been afloat (on water and air) this past week. These American White Pelicans are getting some R&R on Green Valley State Park Lake as the wing their way to Canada.
One of the largest birds in North America, the White Pelicans have a 9-foot wingspan. This pelican skidded in for a landing among the floating and feeding ducks.
Unfortunately, these were motivated into flight as I slowly approached.
This male Horned Grebe is showing his breeding plumage, yellowish patches of feathers behind its eyes that it can raise and lower at will.
The Canadian Geese wintered at the state park and have all but left. But they did enjoy being afloat both on ice and water when they weren’t foraging in the surrounding corn and soybean fields. (A few Mallards are in the mix of the group shot)
And finally, these shots of a Bald Eagle were caught at the park in early March as it soared overhead. At this point it appeared to see some prey with head and talons lowered, but the eagle stayed afloat on the winds, circling for another ten minutes.
Dammed lakes are containers of water for multiple uses: drinking water, recreation, flood control. McKinley Lake in our town’s primary public park was originally dammed to supply water to the local rail industry in the late 1800’s*, covering over 40 acres. It now serves the sole purpose of public recreation.
McKinley Lake Spillway
Asclepian incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)
Grazing Canadian Geese
Help me out if you can identify the wild flowers that grow on the bank of the lake.
Here are a few more containers I saw on my morning walk.
Civic-Minded Concrete Truck: Easter Seals Iowa
Oldest of Creston’s Water Towers
HERE is a link to how others are interpreting the theme, “containers.”
“The lake on the west edge of Creston was originally built in 1874 by the C.B. & Q Railroad. The lake was forty-five acres in size and was created by damming up a creek that drained thirty thousand acres of land. The entire land area including the lake was an 80 acre tract. They built it with the purpose of creating a Holly System of Waterworks. A 7 inch water main brought water directly to the center of town from the Lake. It provided water to the Round Houses and Machine Shops as well as many downtown businesses. A communication system was developed so the yard manager could tell the waterworks supervisor when more water must be sent up. In the winter ice was cut from the lake for railroad use between Burlington and Council Bluffs. All the ice used in Creston was also cut from the lake.”
I’ve been visiting the local state park over the past few weeks since several bald eagles have been spotted in the area. So far, I’ve not “captured” the elusive bird, but there are thousands of Canadian geese in open water at the mostly frozen lake. Last Monday, I was taking some pictures and spied a rodent approaching a group of geese, who were sitting on the ice at the water’s edge. They were somewhat wary of this foraging muskrat and eventually took flight. So, here is the “juxtaposition” between land-bound and winged creatures. Obviously, the geese don’t have much “Muskrat Love.”
“That muskrat is getting a little too close.”
“Let’s get out of here!”
“To the safety of water.”
“Ah, the ice to ourselves.”
Feasting on underwater vegetation it just pulled up
After watching this muskrat’s intrusion on the gaggle of geese, I spotted what looked like two rocks on the water’s edge about 100 yards away. Through the lens I could see that they were, indeed, muskrats, who were feeding on something. Since this was my first time to see muskrats in the wild, I was intrigued at watching them eat, submerge into the icy water and then emerge with some underwater vegetation to continue their feasting.