Sunday, August 23, 2009

Walking in Wood Lake Nature Center

My mom, Joyce Kennedy, took this photo of some of the herons – or are they egrets? – at Wood Lake Nature Center, in Richfield, Minnesota, where I was able to take a few walks last week-end. It's such a beautiful resource, lovingly maintained, contributing quietly and peacefully to the quality of life in the Twin Cities. It's wonderful to walk across the water bridge, surrounded by cattails and other tall native grasses. In the early morning there are many birds flitting between marshland and forest, and inside the shelter is a large wall with data from bird sightings over the past 30 years. That includes some of the time when our friend Ann Sigford was a naturalist there. Ann and I developed some art and nature classes for children years ago, through the COMPAS program in St. Paul, before she moved on to northern Minnesota, and then Sweden. I was recalling those experiences while walking again through Wood Lake, watching the tiny tree toads leap across the footpaths. I'm so grateful that this place still exists.


Lyle Daggett said...

Nice photo. I'm thinking that the birds are, technically, egrets rather than herons -- the two are pretty similar, though a couple of longtime birdwatcher friends tell me herons typically have a distinct blue coloring, and the white ones are egrets. I have great ignorance about this, and am taking their word for it.

I've seen egrets (or whatever they are) also in Loring Park from time to time, and -- occasionally -- flying above Uptown in Minneapolis. (Slow wing motion, legs extended straight out behind the body, head and neck pulled up close to the body in an S-shape, egrets and herons both, when they're in flight.)

elena said...

Thanks Lyle – maybe Joyce will pipe in. In the photo they look pale blue to me, but maybe herons are even darker? I think she said that one day she and Wally saw 11 of them, clustered together.

Wood Lake offers a list of "their" birds for hikers to carry to record sightings. It's quite a long list, including both egrets and herons, owls, and songbirds. Lots of butterflies, too!

Joyce said...

Lyle is right--the birds in the photo are Great Egrets. In one internet site Great Egrets are described as large white herons, but other sites make a distinction between herons and egrets.

The birds in the photo were not blue in color, but there were a couple of solitary blue herons at Wood Lake a couple of years ago and we spotted one this spring.

We saw nine Great Egrets gathered at dusk about a month ago at Wood Lake--the most we have ever seen in a gathering. We called them white herons
(there are white herons as well as blue) but Lyle is right--the more precise identification for these birds would be Great Egret. John Caddy had a beautiful photo of an egret on his August 20 entry.

elena said...

..thanks, Mom! That's over at Morning Earth, John Caddy's wonderful blogsite:

David said...

What a nice treat to stumble upon this post in this blog. It's a rather strange and magical reconnection to a time, place, and people that once were close to my center. As one of the folk associated with Wood Lake, Ann, Joyce, Wally, and Elena, I remember scenes like the photo very well.

What makes this experience so strange and wonderful is how I got to this blog: in a posting by a professional group on Linked In, I saw a link to an MIT website/art project called "Personas" ( I won't explain the project except to say it's worth your time. The only user interaction is to enter someone's first and last name, yours, mine...or my ex-wife's. When I entered mine it processed several snippets gleaned from Yahoo search results, and then does some graphical magic on them. (Try it. You'll understand.) Other names, lots of entries to process. Entered Ann Sigford. One entry. Just one, a quote from this blog. Captured the snippet and back searched...and found a glimpse of my past.
Thanks for sharing your moment with me!

David Johnson
Atlanta GA

elena said...

Hello David! Okay, I am finally clicking on that little box that reads"email follow-up comments to..,"
as it has taken me until now to chance upon your comment, which (curiously enough) happens to be about chancing on connections of one kind or another. Thanks for visiting, and I'm glad you got a more recent glimpse of Woodlake. Hope you'll come back and visit again.