Breakfast at the lake

Tammy Brown

Red shouldered hawk

I was up early this morning to wrap pipes and turn on the heater in the well house in prep for a late hard freeze  After that I wandered down to the little lake to see who was fishing for breakfast.  As always, ducks flew as I approached– even though I was slow and quiet– wings whirring.  One flock of beauties remained–heads and tails black and white with large taupe bodies–Gadwalls.  The Red-shouldered Hawk was low in a tree watching me approach.   Head down counting the bluebonnet rosettes along the path, I didn’t notice that she had swooped in for a kill.  Just in front of me, she was holding a dove  down in her claws on the shore. I was  close enough to cause her distress and she called for help from her mate. He answered across the water and flew from one tree to another.  She tried to carry her victim away but couldn’t seem to manage.  We watched each other for a few minutes.  Unwilling to give the dove up, she settled in to eat and allowed me to stay while she ate her breakfast.  I saw white feathers tossed like dandelion fluff, then red strings of meat stretched up by her curved black beak and devoured. She was methodical and slow, and I walked on before she finished.  Now a snowy white great egret was perched over the water.  Through my binoculars I could see a fine veil of feathers that reminded me of a white peacock. The last large bird I saw fishing was blue-gray from tail to bill and swam with only his head above water; he disappeared diving down for a fish. Some kind of Cormorant..

On the down side at the lake, trash bobbed near the shore and in the tall grass, and I wished for a canoe and a net to clean it up. Next acquisition, I hope.