Friday, June 17, 2011

Vertebrates of Devil's Lake

The nine group camp sites at Devil's Lake form a semi-circle. In the center of the circle, next to the shower'bath house facilities, is a stand of pine trees that, for as long as I remember, is home to a great blue heron rookery. I've no idea how many birds nest there, but they are constantly coming and going. Their warbles and cackles are the white noise of the sites, and their occasional screams pierce the air in a most disconcerting way. It keeps things from being dull, that's for sure.

This little fellow decided to fledge a bit early. It wasn't injured, as far as we could tell, but it managed to wander itself right into the bathroom complex. And it was ferocious. Though not even close to its full adult size, its feet and beak, overlarge for its stature, may have been their size. And even if not, they were imposing. It made a racket when someone approached, both by calling and by clicking its beak. Chris did manage to rescue it and return it to the grove of pines where the nests are, and when we went to check on it, it was gone. I hope that it survived...
In addition to herons, we saw these Sandhills several times. They seemed to inhabit a farm field near the park, and enjoy wading in this pond which was across the road. At one point, we actually ran across -- though happily not over -- the pair in the road. Here, we saw them dancing in the water right close to us... but by the time I was picture-ready, they had moved across the pond.
Fox snake getting ready to strike (right in the middle).
This turtle is burying eggs (or,digging in preparation to lay them). We saw another crossing the road, probably to find a nest site, and we saw a HUGE snapper moving away from the water, presumably for the same reason.
Little red squirrel. They are so much cuter and feistier and chirpier than the grey ones we see here. I just love them.

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