Today I dug my kayak out from the overgrown brush behind my shed and took it out to a local wildlife preserve that is maintained by the power company. The lake was built as an emergency cooling lake for the steam generated electricity plant nearby, and is really an amazing area that I take for granted. I always feel lucky to see a Ardea Herodias , but today, as I paddled into a cove, I saw no less than four of them, standing together, fishing. I paddled to within about 100 yards and then let the wind carry me towards them. I got to a water depth of about 6-8″ before I was almost eaten by a 3 foot long fish wearing a houndstooth coat.
I also think I saw a Butorides striatus, but it could have also been a bittern. I tried to impress in my mind the bird’s colors and shape and behavior, but without binoculars and a notebook, it’s difficult to remember. There were other birds as well…tiny brown birds the size of a plum, with white bellies that pipped and hopped and tried to make themselves seem bigger than they were. There were black and white birds that fought to perch on tree limbs, then took off into the sky and plummetted straight down into the water, popping back out about 5 seconds later with a fish in their mouth.
Strangely, as I paddled along the shoreline, all I could think about when I saw the large shade trees was Victor burying my patient’s EKG under his sequoia tree (see comments for ‘speedy gonzolas’ post. “Your lies die here,” I thought to myself as I paddled back to shore. I can never seem to escape medicine or my patients in spite of being in a specialty chosen for the ability to ‘let go’ of your patients at the end of a shift.