Earth Day on the lake
I am fortunate enough to live in a townhouse here that is about 20 yards away from a man-made lake. The interesting thing about our complex and our lake is that they were designed in the 70's to be eco-friendly (for their time). They didn't really accomplish that with the interior designs, but the grounds and common areas are an unusual and interesting exercise in environmental awareness.
Our complex was built on land that had a natural well. We are also in the center of a flood plain. As the concept was developed around this complex, the questions designers had to wrestle with was how to compensate for the flood danger and what to do with the well. Ultimately, our lake came into being as the answer.
The lake is approximately 10 square acres. Pollution and bacteria are controlled through natural aeration via the well and one pump, which is located on the periphery of the lake, as well as planned algae blooms which turn the lake all sorts of interesting colors 3-4 times per year. It is stocked with fish, and over the years, has become a habitat and haven for local and sometimes-rare shorebirds. Since today is Earth Day, I thought I'd share some of the reasons I love this lake and its inhabitants.
These are snowy egrets. They visit, and sometimes stay for awhile, but I haven't seen them recently. Today, eight of them settled in one of our eucalyptus trees to grab some fish and a break before they moved on. Snowy egrets' wings always make me think of angels' wings -- pure, and they glow when the sun falls on them just right.
This nest is at the top of a dying tree. It is likely the last year these herons will nest in it. There are three active great blue heron nests in the tree. This is the fifth year I have documented the nests, and this year I have seen more nests than any other year. One of the nests has hatchlings, but they're too small to capture even with a long telephoto. In another week or so, we'll start hearing them squawk for food, then we'll see them as they venture out to try out baby wings without feathers, and around Memorial Day they'll leave to migrate with their parents. This heron returns to the top of the tree each year in January or so, rebuilding the nest with twigs from nearby trees. Last year the nest had three baby herons, who flew off in late August. It makes me sad to think they may be gone for good when they leave this year.
No lake would be complete without ducks, and we have many. These babies showed themselves today for the first time, and appear to be the first group of this spring. Not all of the ducklings will survive, but one or two might. We have hawks and other predators (including house cats) that tend to pick off the weakest of them.
Our lake is very special to me. Besides being an infinite source of amazing views at sunset and sunrise, there is always a new bird, flower, or other natural sight to see and capture with the camera. As you think about Earth Day today, I hope you consider how decisions made today about how and where we live may impact how future generations see their environment and living space in relationship with nature.