So I mentioned in my last post that I moved in with a coworker of mine. In addition to being in a better location for getting anywhere, centrally located in "the Cape," the house is right on a lake. Man made and pond-sized, but it connects to part of the 400 miles of canals and other lakes in the city of Cape Coral ("home of the newly wed and nearly dead"). Most connect to the Caloosahatchee estuary and are thus saltwater, but in my case all are freshwater, which works best for me; no ocean access but it feels more like home for someone from the Great Lakes State, where "the beach" always meant a lakeshore. For being in the middle of suburban sprawl, it feels remarkably like living in the country. We get sunsets over our unnamed lake most nights, there's tons of fish (though I have yet to throw a line in), and best of all, my roommate has two kayaks, and keeps urging me to use them.
Digging down, I moved rapidly through the water, not really with any aim or goal, but enjoying the late morning sunshine and the water's peace. The banks are lined mostly with Australian Pines, a non-native, terribly invasive species which nonetheless is a beautiful, graceful tree. I think they were put in to stabilize the man made banks,or perhaps colonized them themselves. They do provide long strips of cover for wildlife, here in the midst of this city of houses or undeveloped lawns/fields (formerly rich forest habitat). Probably they serve a function much like the hedgerows in England do, in those otherwise heavily farmed and changed lands.
There were some storm cells moving in from the west, and though they stayed north of me, I decided to begin to return. All along I'd been looking into the trees, hoping to see some raccoons curled up in the crotch of a tree, though with no luck. But I went much slower on the way back, much to my bird-watching benefit. Now I started seeing some signs of life, starting with some strange heron-looking bird. It later turned out to be a Green Heron, a bird I've already added to my life list some years ago, not that I'm merely interested in cataloging the biggest list. Though the first one flew off after a few moments, I'd shortly get a good chance to watch one feed, down a side canal.
Back out in the main canal, I watched a Red-winged Blackbird harassing a Great Egret. The blackbird (just to the left of the egret in the first photo) had fledglings nearby-- I watched them being fed for some minutes, again from very close-- and was clearly not pleased at this large bird being near his young. Just as I was taking photos, the blackbird dive-bombed the much larger bird's head and drove it sprawling ungracefully into the water, leaving a visibly pissed off egret fuming silently in the weeds, before flying off in irritation.
About this time I realized that I'd neglected to take any photos of that Green Heron, much to my disgust. Idiot! So I returned to that side canal, ghosting again up the bank where I saw the bird last. I know most birds have deceptively small territories or home-ranges, especially in productive habitats, as these seem to be. So I figured the heron was still in the area. After about twenty minutes of sitting nearly motionless in the boat, I finally found him (could have been female, adults look alike). I had a harder time getting close this time, but was able to get a few shots from the increasingly wary bird. Eventually he flew away, when finally I got too close.
The photos could be better, I know. It's hard taking pics from a kayak, when the wind keeps turning you around to face the wrong way, and out of prime position to somewhere with weeds blocking your view of the little bird, which keeps moving himself. And the zoom on this camera isn't ideal for wildlife photography, should have sprung for a camera where you can attach different lenses, namely, telephoto lenses. Maybe next time...