More Wildlife (Herons-Deer, etc) Along Mill Creek
July 11, 2013
Sun-scorched days at 90-plus degrees stretched from late June through today, with one day hitting 111 degrees.
Alas, forecasters claim the century-plus mark looms again for Monday and Tuesday.
Nora the Schnauzer and I don't look foreward to more stuffy days of sweltering beneath the living room ceiling fan and
dozing to the mumbles of old Matlock programs.
Sure, we managed two-hour walks along Mill Creek on most of those days, in the evenings when cottonwood-tree
shade spread across the paved path along the north side of the creek.
The walks haven't been exactly cool, nor have they been blistering.
Unlike fairytale porridge, neither have they been just right.
Yet, we enjoyed them. I know I did. Nora acted like she did, especially on the college lawns.
Well, I lugged along a camera with a long lens since we walked during the photographers' fabled "Golden Hour" of evening,
when the setting sun provides exelemptory light for images. Actually, since we usually started at around 7 p.m.
and darkness set in around 9 p.m., we enjoyed two "Golden Hours."
During those two hours, adding to their enticement, the streamside wildlife (herons, kingfishers, osprey, mink, raccoons, deer, and
wild turkeys) roused to browse from panting though a sultry afternoon.
For example, youngsters from three (at least) great blue heron nests in the tall streamside cottonwood trees
have been feeding themselves in the stream.
On Monday five herons fished between the iron bridge at the project office, near Walla Walla Community College,
and the arching wood bridge half-a-mile upstream at Rooks Park.
The big birds stalked along the weirs and snapped up minnows and crawdads, as well as an occasional trophy
trout. Three night herons also hunted from the weirs and and the trees on Monday and Tuesday.
That's the day Nora and I detoured through the WWCC campus from the Mill Creek trail and back. I snapped four
cottontail rabbits, several quail and a spotted fawn.
The fawn lay in the shade of a flat-roofed campus building. At my appearance, it burst into a graceful sun-lit
gallop past the building, around the corner and into the dark woods. I snapped off 21 frames with the Nikon D3S
and the Sigma 150-500mm lens. They captured lovely images of the spotted fawn, sharp and near-perfectly exposed,
although I'm less than thrilled about the unsightly building as background.
Also, on that day, I scored nice photos of herons launching or preening. Herons have a frustrating habit of
launching when I not ready. Not that day, with Nora's help. For some reason, each time I stopped to watch the
birds, she wandered down the bank to wade out onto the weirs.
That launched the birds, and of the four chances I missed one.
And, with the evening light disappearing, the birds' images printed out sharp bright and with dark backgrounds.
Alas, the same different happen today. With four chances to snap launching herons, I missed four. I either looked away or stepped in a hole
at the moment of launch. Oh, an once the camera didn't focus.
Too dark, I guess.
But the temperature had dropped to below 60 degrees.
Oh, well. It will rise again Friday.
And so on. ...