Until this morning, I’d never seen a Great Blue Heron basking in the morning sun. This big guy appeared to be hot and panting and, perhaps, it held its wings away from its body to cool a bit. Thing is, the Blue was in a spot of sun; that made for a very nice picture with rim lighting effects but would not have helped it cool off. Warding off swarming mosquitoes, I watched and photographed the bird for a long time. I’m sure the basking heron was watching me but seemed happy to stay on its perch and warm, or cool, or just rest. I continued my hike around Hinckley Lake, spying and imaging the basking bird through trailside understory plants. I spent a long time walking, watching, and sweating (temperature was above 80F), turning around about halfway around the lake. My normal birding spots were empty of large waterfowl which was a bit of a disappointment. As I returned to the area where I’d spent so much time earlier, I slowed my pace and began peering through the brush. Sure enough, the heron was still there! I shot a few more portraits of “Basking Blue” and continued my hike to the trailhead. Though soaked with perspiration, I couldn’t leave for home before looking for my other favorite pond creatures: dragonflies. The most plentiful of the dragonflies this day were Eastern Amberwings (Perithemis tenera) and they seemed to be everywhere along the western lake edge. One of the tiny, brilliant dragons posed for me a few times and I was pleased to record not only his image but the stain-like patch of color created by sunlight passing through his wings, falling upon bleached wood.
Birds gotta eat, I know. Still, it seemed unfair. A female Red-winged Blackbird had captured a meal. I photographed her perched on a swaying tree branch at the Columbia Reservation of Lorain County Metroparks. I could see, clutched in her beak, the shining gossamer wings of a dragonfly. I’m a fan of dragonflies and of Red-winged Blackbirds too, for that matter, so had a little remorse over the fate of the dragon. Birds gotta eat, I know. Preparing this photograph for posting today, however, brought out unexpected details in the picture. The tangle of dragonfly in the bird’s beak contained two dragonfly abdomens and, yes, two heads, and too many wings — the blackbird had captured two dragonflies. How could that happen? I can only think of one way. The insects were mating in flight, as they do, when caught. It seemed somehow unfair that they should die in that last embrace.