Water Wonders

by Daniel Martin | Dec 1, 2023 | 0 comments

My Chosen Spot Contest Honorable Mention

The birds of Pennsylvania are a lot different from the birds of New Mexico. Pennsylvania is where this story took place, and New Mexico is where I live.

On Monday, I went on a hike with Grandma and my sister Emily to discover a few of Pennsylvania’s HUGE number of birds. But birds were most certainly not all that I found as I hiked the trail by a lake.

After we were all ready to go, it started raining! But we took umbrellas and went anyway. By the time we reached the parking lot, the rain had stopped, and the sun was peeping down from the clouds at the cool, dripping landscape.

At the beginning of the trail, there was no wildlife except for “invisible” birds whose singing filled the air with beautiful music. We hadn’t gone very far, when a small trail branched off the main trail down to the water’s edge. Splash! Splash! Splash! A multitude of Canada Geese were arriving for a cool bath. After they swam a ways out, they started flipping upside down to find delicious tidbits. From a long distance away, it looked like a lot of mini snow-capped mountain peaks rising above the water.

After hiking a little while, we arrived at a small clearing where we found a grapevine swing. A grapevine had grown up a tree and stretched across to another tree, forming a swing. Emily and I tried swinging on it and had a great time trying to hold on while swaying back and forth. That was fun!

After playing on the swing for a few minutes, we hiked on. Then Emily called me over to look at something. I raced over to see the oddest dragonfly I had ever seen. It had black wings and a shiny green body! I had never seen one like it.

We were walking right beside the lake, with only a thin line of trees separating us from the water. I glanced through a little hole in the trees and saw a Great Blue Heron! It was standing calmly at the other side of the lake in shallow water. Once we had scrutinized him carefully through our binoculars, we wanted to see him fly. Although we made a lot of noise, the smart heron must have known that we were faking, for he did NOT get frightened.

Then, slowly, S L O W L Y, the heron’s head went down. SPLASH! Down went his head into the water. When he emerged, a medium-sized fish struggled helplessly in his bill! Then, as the heron was swallowing his delicious meal, he choked (or so we thought)! He started shaking his head very rapidly. But, thankfully, he was able to swallow the fish! Then the heron’s head went down AGAIN! SPLASH! Another fish! This Great Blue Heron must surely be the “terror of the fish!”

Once we had left the “fisherheron” alone to fish in peace, we came to a break in the trees where we could go to the water’s edge. I was down examining a school of minnows. Out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly spied a large splash. It must be a duck or goose landing in the water, I thought, looking at the spot where I had last seen the splash.

I was VERY wrong, for, a large bird of prey rose out of the water. An Osprey! An Osprey had dropped headfirst into the water. But his plan of catching fish for breakfast failed, for he came out of the water with no fish! We watched him as he flapped around hoping to spot a tasty breakfast. Suddenly, he flipped upside-down and dropped headfirst into the deep, cold water below. SPLASH! When he reappeared, he was soaking wet, with NO FISH!! Poor bird! When he had circled around for a little while, he left.

Osprey flying
Osprey flying. Photo © Cheryl Shank.

On Saturday we returned to cruise the lake on a pontoon boat. While we waited to board the boat, we observed two Black Vultures eating a feast on the lake shore. As we chugged along in the boat, I noticed a large black “duck.” It was a Double-crested Cormorant. Then we discovered an Osprey sailing almost over our heads! As we floated along slowly, some Canada Geese paddled sluggishly out of our way, and someone spotted a Bald Eagle soaring in the distance. Also, we observed a Great Blue Heron on the shore.

Once we had cruised around for a little while, we arrived at a small cove. The shores were full of many different sorts of wildlife, and the calm, shallow water proved to be the perfect place for turtles. A large lazy one lay on a rock. Many red-bellied turtles, red-eared sliders, and even a painted turtle paddled close to the surface of the water.

Then someone noticed a small heron. A Green Heron! I had seen pictures of Green Herons, but never a real one! Another Green Heron was spotted, along with a few Killdeer, Canada Geese, Mallards, and even a muskrat.

As we were heading back, on the shore sat a multitude of Black Vultures, a few Canada Geese, and another Great Blue Heron. We traveled farther, and came upon another Great Blue Heron. As we were watching, all of the sudden, its feet left the ground and it zoomed up into the air! It looked so neat! Then we saw ANOTHER Great Blue Heron!

Going under a bridge, I caught a glimpse of an American Goldfinch, while Cliff Swallows swooped to and fro among their amazing nests of mud. The last bird we found on the boat trip was the fifth, and last…GREAT BLUE HERON!

I had never seen that many herons in one day! God has created SO many amazing and interesting creatures on His earth! And I felt blessed to be able to visit Pennsylvania’s abundant wildlife habitat.

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