I had arrived at the sanctuary with enough time to walk the short trail that loops around the western edge of the 900 acre site. Leaving the marsh and prairie the trail first enters a mixed hardwood forest. The oaks were in their glory, most of the other trees having already shed their leaves. There is something so inviting about a leaf-lined path, like it's paved in gold.
|Upland forest at Haehnle.|
The path passes Eagle lake on the left. A shallow-looking lake, it appeared to be quite low. We had a very hot, dry summer but had received over five inches of rain in October (at least at home). It has filled many empty ponds around my place, so I was surprised to see this lake still so low.
The path eventually leads to the second prairie in the sanctuary. I entered from the southwest, just as the sun broke through the thick gray clouds.
Most of the flowers were done, but here and there goldenrod was still in bloom. They were all covered with insects searching for one last meal.
I chased butterflies in the afternoon sun.
The path looped around and turned to the southeast. The prairie was now back-lit with hazy sunshine.
Re-entering the woods I nearly stepped on this eastern garter snake. It was not a particularly warm day, and he was slow to move.
Back at the marsh I deposited my stuff on a bench near a cluster of old apple trees. I had heard a few small flocks of cranes fly in while I was in the prairie, but the sky was still very quiet. I thought I might find someone interesting in the apple trees, something to do to fill the time waiting for the arrival of the cranes.
I was right--staring into the trees from my spot on the bench I finally detected some movement.
|Most of my shots look something like this!|
I went over to investigate and found a ruby-crowned kinglet gleaning insects in the tangled branches of the trees. Occasionally she paused long enough for me to get a clear shot. I don't think I have attempted anything more difficult than trying to get pictures of a bird actively feeding in a tree on a cloudy evening.
|Sweet face! Love the orange feet on black legs.|
|A nice look at her lemon-edged feathers.|
I am assuming this is a female. If it was a male, his red crown was very well concealed.
|The best for last!|
As the light dimmed I gave up on the kinglet and went back to my bench. Within minutes, the calls of the cranes could be heard beyond the trees at my back.