The days grow shorter but marsh birds grow bolder.
With nesting finished and fledglings close to adult size, both the parents and the juveniles are easier to spot in that short interlude between the brightness of afternoon and the deepening dusk.
Black-crowned Night Herons lurk at the edges of the cattails, but their light colouring makes them conspicuous even in the shadows.
A young Great Blue Heron, with just the first few wisps of an adult’s plume, catches the last direct rays of sunlight.
Dense congregations of lily pads cover much of the water. Young Spotted Sandpipers, looking all grown up except that they have no spots on their bellies, nearly disappear behind upturned leaves as they hunt for insects.
Compared to the pipers, an almost full-grown Gallinule looks shockingly large and nearly sinks through the lily pads in spite of its huge feet.
A Green Heron hides in semi-darkness, but a turn of the head makes its bright eye patch stand out.
At this hour even the Virginia Rail sneaks out beyond its usual cover to grab worms from the mud.
• • •
To close, something completely different. A look at the dry loose sand in the full heat of an August afternoon shows sand wasps working tirelessly to dig tunnels where they can lay their eggs. They have no interest in any picnic lunch humans might bring to the beach – they just want to get their larvae hatched, and then bring the larvae enough tiny insects to get them on their way.
In the meantime sand must fly.