Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fun Bird Behavior and Other Things at Lake Wintergreen

I love it when family visits me. Primarily, of course, because I get to see loved ones who live far away, but also because I get to show off some of my favorite parks. :) On Friday, I took my parents and my sister to Lake Wintergreen in West Rock Ridge State Park.

We saw some fun things while we were there, starting with a Great Blue Heron that flew to the other side of the lake with a big, black, and still flopping fish in its beak:

The heron, it seems, was having more luck than the horde of camp children with their fishing poles along the lake's edge, and that fish looks like quite a prize!

When I first saw this robin lying stretched out on the ground, I was a little concerned:

But not to worry, it was up and running about like normal after a few minutes:

My first thought was that this robin was taking part in a distraction display, feigning sickness and/or injury to draw a predator's (i.e. my) attention toward itself and away from a nearby nest -- I've seen other birds do this sort of thing, and while I'd never heard of a robin doing it, I didn't think it was out of the realm of possibility. After looking at some pictures online, however, I have come to a new explanation for the robin's behavior: sunbathing! Perhaps it feels good to stretch out in the sun, with limbs at awkward angles and feathers askew -- or it may be a helpful part of the grooming process. Whatever the exact reason, sunbathing is apparently a normal bird thing, and now I know not to be alarmed if I come across another bird doing this in the future. (Even if it does look really scary.)

As always, there were lovely flowers to see as well. Whole swathes of the lake were carpeted with these Fragrant Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata), their white blooms practically glowing in the sun:

Tansy, a plant introduced from Europe, was growing in a large patch by the path -- I learned that the leaves, when bruised, smell really strongly and strangely floral:

And it wouldn't have been a visit from my family without Mr. Westley tagging along. He had a nice lie-down in the cool water, wading in as far in as his leash would allow:

Hooray for strange bird behavior, pretty flowers, and happy dogs. :)

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