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The Egrets have shown up at Market Lake

Living the Wild Life

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Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Just after the sun slipped out of bed on Thursday morning, a Snowy egret made a “slip-and-slide” landing on a shallow area of Pond #4 at Market Lake Wildlife Management Area. A few minutes later another one flew over me as I was watching the first one feeding.

“The egrets have just showed up this week,” Brianne McAllister, a wildlife tech for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, told me later. “And today we had a huge flock of pelicans show up. It looks like the migrations have started.”

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Before I saw the egrets and before the sun made her appearance, thousands of White-faced ibis left their roosting areas and headed for flooded hay fields in the Roberts area to glean the dead and dying worms. Canada geese and a smattering of ducks also flew west from Pond #3.

On Monday my friend, Wylie. and I drove to Camas National Wildlife Refuge and Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area seeing very few birds before stopping at Market Lake where we saw a Great and a Snowy egret. We were excited to see them as they have been AWOL for the last two seasons after being very common in the previous three seasons.

Thursday I decided to spend a couple of hours in the marsh to see what other wildlife would show up to add to the wildness of my life. Sandhill cranes, howling coyotes, grunting coots, a few quackers and hookers entertained me. The wildlife music along with my age and the warmth of the dawning day caused me to doze before a strange sound opened my lazy eyes.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

“A Sora!” I thought. Quickly it was answered by its cousin, a Virginia rail. They continued visiting back and forth as I adjusted my position and camera just in case someone wanted their picture taken. It was almost a half an hour when I detected a movement along the two-inch mud between the water and the cattails. It was a rail.

Its long bill would probe the soft mud for a morsel of food followed by a face washing before it found another muddy offering. Finally it saw me when I made a slight adjustment and it took off running only to pause long enough to drop a load of fertilizer before disappearing into the thick vegetation.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

A Great-blue heron and a small flock of pelicans flying in unison, except for one who was out of sync with the others, came by before a noisy barking truck from Montana pulled up.

“What ya waiting for?” I was asked.

“Hoping to get a picture of a Great egret.”

“It will be a long wait until next spring ‘fore one shows up.”

“We saw one on Monday right here.”

“Uh, haa. Got a picture?”

“Not here.”

“Uh, haaaaa; see ya next spring.”

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

As the noisy barking white truck left a Great egret flew in from the eastern side of Pond #3 and started harvesting minnows and dragonfly nymphs along the reeds. I smiled as my predicted long wait was very short indeed.

I think I smiled all the way home thinking of the beautiful sunrise, singing birds and coyotes, noisy truck and a kind and informative Fish and Game tech. Another day enjoying the wilds of Idaho and back home before breakfast was cold.

A promise was made to myself; I will kept checking Market Lake every few days as it feels like things are beginning to wake up.

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