Beyond the BackyardLake MirrorLake Morton

Springtime at Lakes Morton and Mirror

I can’t believe it was almost May before I made my first visit to Lakes Morton and Mirror this year!  I’ve been so busy, with no time for photography.  I totally missed swan nesting season.  Or so I thought…

My dad came with me on this particular morning, and since we usually start at Lake Morton, we decided to try something new and go to Lake Mirror first.  We were amazed – there were almost no birds there!  The piling out in the middle of the lake where the skimmers and gulls usually hang out was gone, so maybe the birds left too.  We walked all the way around the lake without seeing more than a grackle (which, by the way, are very loud with their fledglings!) So we were happy when we finally saw a bird, one of the Shelducks…

Shelduck
Shelduck

We were about ready to leave when we finally noticed another bird.  Two, actually.  Mama Mandarin Duck and her little chick were resting on the concrete steps going down to the water.  Mama watched us with a wary eye and Baby laid there oblivious while we snapped a few photos.  I asked Mama to take the baby for a swim, but she didn’t want to.  Silly bird.

Mandarin Duck with Baby
Mandarin Duck with Baby

So then my dad and I headed to Lake Morton, hoping that the bird life there would be more active.  It was!  Within a few minutes of leaving the car, we had four male Wood Ducks posing for us.  They swam into the light, closer and closer to shore, and did a few wing flaps (which my dad caught, and I didn’t!)  We couldn’t have asked these birds to be better models.

Wood Duck (male)
Wood Duck (male)

Next we came across a pair of this year’s “Easter ducklings.”  People tend to abandon these guys by Lake Morton every year after Easter.  It’s a little sad to see them.  But usually they find other birds to hang out with.  This pair was sticking to each other like glue.

This Year's Easter Babies
This Year’s Easter Babies

A few steps farther, we came across a few Ruddy Ducks.  Most of the ducks left for their breeding grounds a month or more ago, so I was surprised to see Ruddies still sticking around.  My dad was just saying that he didn’t have a good close picture of a Ruddy Duck, then we spotted a pair lying very close to shore.  They let us get close!

Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck

We spotted a Common Gallinule with two tiny chicks, then we spotted another with juvenile “teenagers.”   This one seemed to be asking one of the hard questions of childhood….”Mommy, am I a boy or a girl?” :)

Juvenile Common Gallinule
Juvenile Common Gallinule

One of my favorite things about visiting Lake Morton in the spring is seeing all the White Ibises in their breeding plumage.  Their faces get this deep shade of red, and the females’ throats develop this little pouch.  I guess it’s attractive to the male Ibises!  The White Ibises in my neighborhood, more commonly referred to in my family as the “yard crew,” have long since lost their peak breeding colors.  So I was happy to see this guy looking spiffy…

White Ibis in Breeding Plumage
White Ibis in Breeding Plumage

Finally as we got back to the car, we noticed the pair of Black-necked Swans incubating a nest.  They were very territorial and fussed at any people or birds who got too close.  As I watched, Mom stood up and turned her eggs.  Hopefully we’ll see tiny Black-necked cygnets at the lake in a few weeks!

Nesting Black-necked Swans
Nesting Black-necked Swan Turning Her Eggs

Since I didn’t see any of my lake friends on this trip, I’ll send a virtual “hi” to Kim and Linda and all the wonderful cygnet-watchers from years past.  I loved reading your blogs and seeing this year’s babies through your photos! :)