Buchanan Lake as a Night Roost - 2 Dec
Yesterday's sunshine was promise enough to send me to a weather site to
check the evening's forecast. Promised were mostly clear skies, winds below 3
mph, and a nearly full moon for illumination. Tenable teenaged temps were not
formidable enough to chill a chance to view waterfowl flocking after sunset
to Buchanan Lake's calm waters, surely reflective under a full moon.
I parked at Sarg Hubbard Park just in time to catch 200 Canada Geese,
flushed off bare grass by a dog walker, settle into the concert pond. By body size
and bill shape, two were candidates for Cackler status.
On the pathway at 3:30, a Northern Harrier kicked up a Wilson's Snipe that
approximated the erratic flight of the paper planes I folded as a
kid...airborne ever so briefly before diving nose first into the earth. A Bewick's Wren
was prominent in sparse brush at the river's edge. At Buchanan, another 62
geese loafed with a single female goldeneye.
A brisk walk to the Arboretum Sparrow Patch turned up a mix of 100+ small
seed eaters on the ground. A half-dozen Mourning Doves and 120 Red-winged
Blackbirds were in the surrounding tree tops awaiting my departure as their
signal to join the buffet. Two adult Bald Eagles along the Yakima River greeted
my return to the pathway.
Ten minutes prior to sunset, Buchanan's geese were joined by a pair of
Mallards, 3 Common Goldeneyes, and 16 Hooded Mergansers. The flock of geese would
grow to over 100 fifteen minutes past sunset. At sunset, the mist rising
from the lake became increasingly less enchanting. Nineteen Common Goldeneyes
paddled near the raft of geese.
Pinkish hues remained in the sky ten minutes past sunset. When the color
abandoned the skies, my cheeks compensated for the loss. At that point, my
confidence that the dropping temperatures would hit the dew point and clear the
mist weakened. Never happened. Thirty minutes after sunset, 170 diver-size
shapes bobbed amongst the 100 geese. A few Hooded Merganser silhouettes were
evident but the vapor curtain exasperated my efforts at further ID.
Though I had picked an evening with calm, flat water and a well illuminated
sky, mist defeated me. The air was certainly cold enough to turn a dew point
into a frost point but the lake's deep water must throw a kink into the
process. I hit the Wikepedia website for help on unraveling the mysteries of the
dew point but ran aground when the offered formula had symbols I was not
I then noted a sidebar offered a choice of other languages. As the English
version was Greek, I randomly selected Polski. The formula presented there
was equally challenging but it did contain numbers with six decimal places.
Equally impressive was the title for Dew Point...Temperatura punkty rosy.
Loosely translated, I think that means if it is cold enough to turn your cheeks
rosy, the formula is kaput...ya ain't gonna see nuthin'.
As I exited, I noticed that the lake's floating island with its small stand
of conifers and seated fisherman was adrift near the eastern shore. My prior
experiment with seeing better by using a spotlight failed. My pleas for
flares and a submarine have gone unheeded. Seeing better by getting closer
still seems viable though. If I could replace the island's dummy with myself (a
straight dummy for dummy exchange) in the chair (armed only with my Swifts
8X42s) and enlist a couple Navy Seals to power the island within bino range...
PS Better yet, as this is a Fantasy Island adventure, does anyone have a
number for Tattoo or Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban)? On a second thought,
better leave Tattoo on the pathway...he makes too much noise with the bell and
shouting, " De goose, De goose!"
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