Category Archives: Horseshoe Lake

Antique Fire apparatus displayed at Horseshoe Lake

Father and son inspect 1899 American steam fire engine

Father and son inspect 1899 American steam fire engine

By Pat Nelson
October 3, 2008
Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA

 

Visitors to Horseshoe Lake Park saw red recently when the Pacific Northwest Chapter of SPAAMFAA (Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America) held its first annual “end of summer muster” in September.

Ralph Decker of Tacoma, secretary-treasurer of SPAAMFAA’s Northwest Chapter, admired Woodland Fire Department’s 1928 Pirsh fire engine.

“Pirsh went out of business, but they built great apparatus,” he said. “It’s a shame they couldn’t’ compete anymore.” The Pirsh was Woodland’s first actual fire engine, after using a converted Model T. Woodland also displayed a more modern rig, its 2006 American LaFrance pumper.

Two of Doug Blackburn’s and Cathie Bigelow’s rigs drew a lot of attention. One was an 1855 Button hand pumper pulled to fires and pumped by man power.

“OK,” shouted Blackburn, who lives near LaCenter, “we need some firemen over here.” Five firemen lined up on each side of the pumper. “One hand up and one down, like this,” said Blackburn, as he demonstrated the proper grip on the long pumping arms. First the pumping arm on one side, and then the other, was pulled down by the firemen, over and over.

“Everybody got your pace?” yelled Blackburn.

“One-two, one-two” shouted Bigelow, SPAAMFAA’s Northwest Chapter president.

“Now pick it up,” Blackburn directed. “When you guys tire out, let me know.”

When the pumper was in use, lines of firemen waited to pick up the slack as those manning the pump tired, he explained.

 “Those guys were short and tough,” he said. “This one was before the horse-drawn rigs. It had to be pulled to the fire.”

Since there wasn’t a nearby horse trough to pump from for the Woodland event, water was pumped from a portable Fold-A-Tank pond. As a yellow fire hose filled with water, a bell rang, lights swayed and water spewed into the air.

Kids attending the event sported Junior Fire Marshall badges. James Summers, 4 ½, inspected an 1899 American steam fire engine with his dad, Woodland fireman Bill Summers.

The star of the show was another of Blackburn’s rigs, an 1899 American designed to be horse draw.  Originally built for San Francisco, it was later owned by 20th Century Fox and was in the films “Old Chicago” and “Hello Dolly.” It received a new boiler in 2000 from Everett Engineering, and is inspected yearly.

Before Blackburn demonstrated the steam-powered pumper, someone shouted, “Wet down the area. We’ll need a wet down around the steam pumper.”

Excelsior and kerosene-soaked kindling were often used to start a fire in the boiler, Blackburn explained.  A pile of wood sat behind the engine and Blackburn’s assistant started the fire with newspaper and kindling.

Soon, light grey smoke and soot chased observers from their vantage points.

“Get ready for it to blow,” shouted a little curly-haired boy. Bigelow rang the bell. Blackburn told the onlookers the pumper would have to get up to temperature, but not too fast. He entertained onlookers with stories while they waited.

People often think of these pumpers as spouting black smoke, he said.

 “That is because cities were too cheap to buy anthracite coal, so they burned hard rubber from tires,” he explained.

 “Ramp it up,” Blackburn hollered around noon after checking the gauges. Steam burst from the top of the engine and seeped out at ground level. Eventually, the equipment did its job, pumping a strong stream of water from the hose.

Many buildings burned to the ground because it took so long to heat the steam engine.

Blackburn, who worked for Fire District 6 in Hazel Dell for over 20 years, started out with a collection of helmets that grew and grew. He enjoys using his collection to show the way firefighting used to be.

Sidebar:

For more information, visit http://www.pnwspaamfaa.com/

Visit http://www.fentonfire.com/ if shopping for an antique fire truck.

To learn more about SPAAMFAA, visit www.spaamfaa.org.

 

 

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Filed under antique fire truck, Horseshoe Lake, The Daily News, Woodland

Art takes many forms at Horseshoe Lake

For The Daily News, Longview, WA.  September 19, 2008
Reprinted with permission         

 

Art took many forms when the Woodland Community Library sponsored Art in Horseshoe Park on Sept. 6. Eighteen pop-up canopies formed a horseshoe on the lakeshore. The types of art displayed were as different as the dachshund and the St. Bernard two visitors walked through the show.

The first artist I visited with was local artist and art instructor Debbie Neely. I’ve never felt like an artist myself…I couldn’t even stay in the lines of a coloring book… but several years ago, Neely did her best to draw out the talent in me when she taught Beginning Drawing for Woodland Community Education.  She introduced me to scratch art, where you use a sharp metal tool to scratch your drawing into an ink or clay-covered board. Surprisingly, she was able to teach me to use the right side of my brain, and I produced several recognizable pictures in the class. Now, I enjoy doing scratch art with my grandchildren.

          Cheryl Hazen displayed mosaics, and The Northwest Oil Painters Association exhibited paintings. In addition, there were artists displaying clothing, blankets, jewelry, hats, paintings on porcelain, sketches, and more. At every booth, I enjoyed something different.  

Art took another form, too, as students from Premier Martial Arts of Woodland performed. Sondra Smith, porcelain artist and teacher, summed up her craft on the back of a plate, “I’m not moody, disorganized, or self-absorbed. I’m an artist.”

For artist Dennis Hatch, a Native American flute maker who lives in Washougal, his art of flute-making has become a full-time occupation. Hatch  is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Chippewa Indian Tribe (Anishinabe). He makes Woodland flutes, so it seems fitting he came to Woodland to show his work. Flutes on his website www.nativefluteonline.com range from $250 to $1000.

          A beaded necklace by Valeri Darling of Darling Designs was a real show- stopper. Her first piece of beaded jewelry, a slot machine necklace, took two years to complete. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” Darling said.

The piece showed three 7’s in 3-D, lined up across the “win” line of a slot machine. To make it more realistic, the slot machine even had a handle. The sides of the beaded strap read “Win Win” and “Hit the Jackpot,” and across the top it said, “Big Time Winner.” Coins strung on beads poured from the bottom of the machine. “This was all done with needle and thread,” said Darling. “You cant get one bead out of place.”

Not all of her necklaces take two years to create, but all are one of a kind. “Most take 12 to 14 hours,” said Darling. Visit DarlingDesigtnJewelry.com to see the slot machine and other designs.

          Attendees munched on homemade chocolate chip cookies and banana bread from one vendor’s booth or ate tacos, burritos, and tortas from Roman’s Taco wagon, and then they cooled down with goodies from a bright yellow ice cream truck, which periodically played its magical tune.

          Out on the lake, where trout had just been planted, fishermen showed off their art of fishing, but the trout were biting so fast that art or skill didn’t seem to be required.

On the other side of the boat launch, 17 Ugandan children took a break from performing their art of song and dance by wading and splashing in the lake. Most of the children, ages 6 to 14, are orphans, many whose parents died of Aids. They are on tour singing and dancing to raise money through donations and the sale of their CD to help support the IAM Children’s Family orphanage in Uganda. They’ll be back in Woodland performing at the Woodland Christian Church at 6 PM, Sept. 27.

Iris Swindell, organizer of the Woodland Community Library’s first annual art show, organized Art in Horseshoe Park as a fundraiser and to draw attention to the need for a new library in Woodland.

 

 

 

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Filed under Art in Horseshoe Park, Cheryl Hazen, Debbie Neely, Dennis Hatch, fishing, Horseshoe Lake, IAM Childrens Family, mosaic art, Native American, Native American flutes, Northwest Oil Painters Association, Premier Martial Arts-Woodland, scratch art, The Daily News, Uganda orphanage, Woodland Community Library, Woodland flutes

Skate park goes green

by Pat Nelson
Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA 5/23/2008

  A sign stating “Tree City USA” now sits near three newly planted flowering trees at the edge of the lawn stretching gently downhill from Woodland’s skateboard park. In late April, City of Woodland employees and volunteers laid sod to convert the area surrounding the skate park from a muddy mess into a lush lawn.

I’m not a stranger to laying sod, so I was curious when I saw the pallets of healthy grass being delivered to Horseshoe Lake Park. My husband and I installed sod in our front yard in 2005 because of its ease of installation and immediate results. We also liked the idea that it would be less susceptible to weed invasion than a seeded lawn. Those were all good, logical reasons, but the main reason I wanted to lay sod was that I had done it once before, and it was fun.

My first sod-laying experience was 15 years ago when my son, Steve, bought a home. It was a hot day, and I remember being busy with the hose, watering the pallets of sod so they wouldn’t dry out and keeping the already-laid sod and the bare soil moist. Looking at Steve’s brown yard, and then at the pallets of sod, I couldn’t have predicted the rewarding transformation that took place that day, into a dense, green, healthy lawn. As Steve and I carried the sections of turf and placed one tightly against another, a beautiful lawn quickly formed. We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Don Schmitt, owner of Far West Turf Farm and Circle S Landscape Supplies, LTD., made the grassy slopes surrounding the skateboard park possible by donating 16,000 square feet of sod. Schmitt’s turf farm and nursery, formerly located on Old Lewis River Road, moved to its present location at 35306 NW Toenjer Rd. a little more than a year ago. The Circle S nursery also has a location in Fairview, OR. Schmitt’s grass is grown from perennial rye grass seed produced in the Willamette Valley. The Port of Woodland donated soil to prepare the area for landscaping. Before laying the sod, City of Woodland employees graded the area and then applied fertilizer and lime on top of the finished grade.

At the skateboard park this April, frequent spring showers took care of keeping the sod cool and damp during installation, and sprinklers have been keeping it moist since then. City employees and volunteers quickly learned that when laying sod, it helps to be able to touch your toes; the task requires repeated bending in order to place the five-square-foot sections of lawn on the soil. The sod is grown in meshed net for support and to aid in installation, and it is cut into sections before delivery. Installers start with the longest straight edge, and work towards irregular boundaries. They fit the pieces close together, without overlapping, staggering the sections like bricks.

One thing I like about working with sod is that it is forgiving. If you need to move a section, you simply pick it up and move it. If you need to create a better fit or round a corner, you cut it with a sharp knife, a garden spade, or shears. Rather than disposing of the scraps, you can keep them damp for possible use later in the installation. These scraps can mean the difference between finishing the project or ordering more sod.

Once sod is in place, it is usually rolled with a half-full water-weighted roller to provide good contact between the roots and the soil, and to eliminate air pockets. Conditions were too wet for using the roller, so workers placed plywood on the grass to keep the soil from being disturbed when walked on and to help the grass roots bond. Large boulders from Kalama were placed around the grassy area, separating it from the parking lot where fishermen gather at the northeast side of Horseshoe Lake.

City employees Scott Summers, Paul Trice, Mark Sarvela, Brent Shelton, Jason Sloan, and Mark Cook, along with volunteers Ken Huston and Blayden Wall, worked on the project. The sod is in place, but that doesn’t mean the job is over for city employees. In a few days, the lawn will be ready for mowing.

The new sod completely transformed the landscape around the skateboard park. Brown soil almost instantly became a lush green carpet of grass, As it turned out, this carpet was rolled out just in time as Woodlanders gathered next to the new lawn to celebrate receiving, for the very fist time, the title “Tree City USA” from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

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Filed under Horseshoe Lake, Kalama, National Arbor Day Foundation, sod, The Daily News, Tree City USA, turf farm, WA, Woodland

Anticipation building for Planters’ Days

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission,”
The Daily News, Longview, WA June 20, 2008

To me, this photo of the partially-assembled carnival at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake represents the word “anticipation.”

 Carnival workers anticipate a busy festival, smiling faces and lots of ticket sales this weekend during the Planters’ Days festival.

Many kids anticipate receiving a few extra bucks from their parents for ride tickets. Teens anticipate seeing their friends. The Planters’ Days Committee anticipates a great turnout for its annual celebration.

I anticipate the smiling faces of my grandchildren and friends who will be enjoying Planters’ Days 2008 with my husband and me. We’ll all be anticipating sunshine for the weekend’s events.

Like a little kid, I look forward to the arrival of the carnival each June. My heart was beating a little faster Monday morning when the first carnival trucks started pulling into Horseshoe Lake Park.

 On Monday, huge strawberries, part of a ride, sat on their trailer, but by Tuesday they had been assembled. By Thursday, after all of the rides had been inspected for safety, they twirled ‘round and ‘round, full of squealing children. On their trailer, they looked like a giant version of the crates of Woodland’s sweet local berries sold at roadside stands.

Carnival employees and managers parked their campers and fifth wheels close to Horseshoe Lake this year, where they could enjoy its beauty. A few swam, not deterred by a strong breeze and cloudy skies. By Wednesday afternoon, many rides had been partially assembled. The Super Loops ride, not yet connected at the top in the picture above, requires that an employee climb to the top to complete its assembly. Perhaps that duty is even more thrilling than the ride itself. I held my breath as I watched a worker descend from the top of the loop to the ground, using the loop as a ladder. It was probably more frightening to me than it was to him.

The Planters’ Days festivities began Thursday as kids paraded down Davidson Street in wagons, on bikes, and in costumes for the annual Kids’ Day Parade. The parade terminated at the carnival site. Opening-day excitement continued with the queen’s coronation. Then, at 10:00 p.m., people lined the banks of the lake and some watched from boats, as fireworks shot into the air, thundered and popped, and reflected off the lake in long, squiggly ribbons of color. For my family, the fireworks show was especially exciting because our granddaughters from Arizona, Lauren, 4, and Brooke, 9 months, had just arrived for a visit a few hours earlier.

Most people who attend the four-day event couldn’t  tell you why the community celebrates Planters’ Days. The celebration dates back to June 30, 1922, when local farmers celebrated the fact that the dike protecting their farmlands from flooding had held for a whole year.  Annual celebrations continued until 1943, when the celebration was discontinued until the end of World War II.  There have been more floods since that first celebration, but most years, the dikes keep the farmlands from flooding, and the celebration goes on.

Saturday, our Kelso grandchildren, Max and Chelsea, will be showing their Arizona cousin, Lauren, some of their favorite Planters’ Days activities: the frog jump, the penny scramble, the bed races, and the firemen’s muster. If the kids aren’t too tired, we’ll take in the Colgate Country Showdown, the Rose City Classics Cruise-In, and the street dance in the evening.

I always look forward to the car show on the Sunday of Planters’ Days weekend when as many as 400 classic cars line Davidson, Goerig, and Park Streets.  Many look like the same cars that cruised in front of my high school every day after school in the1960’s. When I look at those cars, I find myself saying, “I remember when….”

I’ll be watching a new event on  Sunday when the West Coast Outboard Racing Club holds its “Race Against Drugs” on Horseshoe Lake.  We’ll be watching these boats from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as they race around the northern half the lake at speeds of 45 to 100 mph.

Anticipation. It’s half the fun. The other half is attending Woodland’s 2008 Planters’ Days celebration.

 

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Filed under carnival, celebrations, grandchildren, Horseshoe Lake, Planters' Days, Race Against Drugs, The Daily News, West Coast Outboard Racing Club, Woodland

A Trip to the past…youngsters visit Lelooska Cultural Center

School buses visit Horseshoe Lake Park after Lelooska field trip 

By Pat Nelson
For: The Daily News, Longview, WA
May 2, 2008
Reprinted with permission

 

Three weeks ago, on a cold and blustery April day that threatened snow, I looked out at Horseshoe Lake and saw more shoreline activity than I thought the nippy day deserved. Two men fished from an aluminum boat. The wind pushed them along as though they were trolling. Their heads were bundled in hats and hoods, and I imagined them pouring hot cups of coffee from a thermos as my dad, who was a die-hard fisherman, would have done on such a day. Two anglers in yellow rain jackets fished from shore. City workers circled the skateboard park on machinery, leveling the dirt that they would soon cover with grass. A boy rode his bike down a bowl of the skateboard park while his friend, in shorts, sat on the frigid concrete. In the gusty wind, Moose Lodge volunteers held tightly onto the canopies they had just set up for their fishing derby.

It was almost lunchtime, and my computer displayed a temperature of only 48 degrees. I shivered as I watched people going about their various activities on the lakeshore. Three yellow school buses pulled into Horseshoe Lake Park, and then another. I watched as children, accompanied by several adults, got off the buses. Kids walked across the parking lot, and then hurried to the playground equipment, swinging their lunches in paper bags, insulated containers, and plastic grocery sacks as they ran.

I’d always been curious about the many buses that visit Horseshoe Lake Park from other school districts. Reluctantly, leaving a steaming-hot cup of tea on my desk, I snuggled into my warmest coat, grabbed my camera and note pad, and drove to the park to ask why anyone would choose to picnic on such a day.

As the wind whipped my coat, I talked with a teacher named Kim who told me she was accompanying 120 third graders from the Tualatin (Ore.)School District.  They had visited the Lelooska Cultural Center in Ariel where living history programs have been presented for more than 40 years.  My own children had attended the Lelooska school programs 30 years ago when the late Chief Lelooska was the storyteller. He dedicated his life to preserving the arts and culture of the Northwest Coast Indians. A well-known wood sculptor, he carved totem poles, elaborate masks, panels, rattles, and bowls. When Chief Lelooska died in September 1996, his brother Fearon Smith Jr , called Tsungani, became chief. Tsungani carries on the traditions of his brother as storyteller and narrator of the living history programs, sharing the heritage of the native peoples of North America with more than 13,000 individuals each year through cultural programs and the museum.

The Tualatin students attended as part of their school’s Native American unit, arriving at 10:30 a.m.for a cultural program where they were entertained by headdress dancers wearing carved masks, and by drums and stories in the Kwakiutl ceremonial house. After the presentation, they visited the museum before stopping at Horseshoe Lake for lunch.  

I stood talking with Kim near a covered picnic table, next to a tall lilac that was beginning to bloom just in time for Woodland’s annual Hulda Klager Lilac Festival. A Twix wrapper that missed the garbage can somersaulted past us in the wind. Most of the kids had hats on or hoods up, but one boy in shorts didn’t seem to know it was cold.

“The kids love Lelooska,” said Kim. “It’s something they have never seen before. They haven’t been exposed to storytelling, and it’s good for them to hear stories.”

As we talked, she kept her eyes on the youngsters. A girl named Amanda hurried over to report that there were five duck eggs nearby. Next, a boy ran up, rubbing his red hands together, saying, “I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m cold.” We quickly ended our conversation as the adults rounded up the youngsters and walked them back to the warm buses. 

As the kids left the park, the ducks and geese took their places, cleaning up sandwiches, cookie crumbs, and potato chips.

If you visit Lelooska on a chilly day, as the students from Tualatin did in April, the cedar fire in the ceremonial house will keep you toasty warm while you listen to stories and watch the costumed dancers. If the day is cold and blustery, though, how about a cup of hot cocoa instead of a picnic?

Sidebar:

What:     Lelooska Living History Program and Museum

Where:   165 Merwin Village Rd., Ariel

When:    May 10 and May 31, 7 PM, reservations required;

Contact: 360 225-9522

                  http://www.lelooska.org

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Filed under education, entertainment, Horseshoe Lake, Lelooska, Native American, school field trips, The Daily News, Woodland

Kids, birds will compete for Horseshoe Lake fish

Cormorants fish at Horseshoe Lake 

 

April 18, 2008

 

 

By Pat Nelson
For The Daily News, Longview, WA
Copyright
Reprinted with permission

In preparation for spring fishing at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife planted more than 8800 rainbow trout and more than 6510 brown trout during the first eight days of April. Another 2,500-3,500 rainbows will be trucked to Horseshoe Lake for the fifth annual Moose Lodge kids’ fishing derby, to be held 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The derby is for children ages 5 to 14.

Moose Lodge volunteers will place a large net in the lake to hold the fish that the hatchery delivers for the derby. Then, they will stand guard through the night to make sure no fish-loving banditos catch the trout before the kids have had their fun.

The cormorants flew in this month just after the first fish were planted. They must have followed the truck from the hatchery.  They eat their share of the newly-planted fish, but according to fishing derby chairman Fred Rotinski, they don’t seem to bother the fish that are in the net. The ospreys, on the other hand, see the fish in the net and dive right in.

Cormorants work together when they fish. Last Friday at dawn, I watched several of the black, web-footed birds pick off some tasty treats with their hooked beaks. First, they flew in low and then settled on the water. They seemed to be just floating along leisurely, with their bodies under water and their long, straight necks sticking straight up like periscopes. Suddenly they started diving. I looked out at a group of cormorants in front of me, only to blink my eyes and then to see no birds at all; they had disappeared under water. I continued to watch the spot where I had last seen them, but after about 30 seconds, they popped up in another spot, and then dove again.

Cormorants can dive from 8 to 20 feet, sometimes even more. Here, though, they don’t have to work that hard because the newly-planted fish swim close to the surface.

The cormorants weren’t the only fishermen out in the early morning. A heron swooped low on the lake, just above the cormorants, surveying the seafood buffet, and three ospreys flew high in the air, often flapping their wings quickly to stay in place, like a helicopoter in a holding pattern, before diving for fish..

Competing with the birds doesn’t deter Moose Lodge volunteers, who have held eight or nine planning meetings to get ready for the derby. They will arrive at the park Saturday morning with 50 rods and reels for the youngsters to use. The kids only have to bring the $2 entry fee.

Volunteers in aprons will have their pockets loaded with hooks and bait. Kids can have their picture taken with their catch, and can even have their fish cleaned. Thanks to donations from local citizens and merchants, bikes, fishing rods, and other prizes will be awarded.

The birds are doing their best to make a dent in the more than 18,000 fish planted in Horseshoe Lake  this month, but there should be plenty of fish left for the five hundred kids expected at the derby. Moose Lodge volunteers are excited about the event. “If you see some little kid catch his first fish, you’ll understand why we do this,” chairman Rotinski said.

Sidebar:

What: 5th annual Moose Lodge Kids’ Fishing Derby

When: Saturday April 19, 8 AM-2 PM

Where: Horseshoe Lake Park, just  west of the skateboard park

FOR: AGES 5-14

Cost: $2

DETAILS: Poles and bait provided; Food, fun, and prizes.

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Filed under birding, fishing, fishing derby, hatchery trout, heron, Horseshoe Lake, Moose Lodge, The Daily News, Uncategorized, WA, Woodland

Natasha the blue heron has the ultimate license to fish

Natashe the heron By Pat Nelson
For “The Daily News,” Longview, WA
Reprinted with permission

Wednesday morning, I looked out at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake and realized that spring is almost here. There was Natasha, back from her winter’s journey south. She sat motionless on a metal railing, her yellow eyes scanning the chilly water for breakfast.

Natasha has always behaved differently from the other blue herons I’ve watched at Horseshoe Lake. She spends a lot of time around people, more out of laziness than love, I think… or maybe she’s just plain smart. She’s likely to claim a spot for herself right next to a fisherman’s chair over on the beach near the skate park, hoping for a handout. She was given her name by a Horseshoe Lake fisherman.

In past years, she tried to make a neighbor’s pond her fish market. The neighbor tried adding a gazing ball to the pond so that Natasha would be frightened by her reflection, but that didn’t stop the bird from having her pick of the pond. Next, the neighbor added a sprinkler system on a motion detector to scare Natasha away, but she soon learned that it took a minute or two for the sprinklers to reset, giving her time to fish.

After that, stronger measures were required. My friend spread a net over the entire pond. If you try this, keep the net a couple inches off  the water so that the hungry blue heron does not use it to stand on while poking its beak through the net to nab a fish.

As I watched Natasha Wednesday morning, something must have frightened her because she flew away with a low-pitched squawk, her head folded back onto her shoulders, with her long legs out behind her body. Her broad gray wings resembled leather stretched over a frame, flapping slowly and with great strength. Her 6’ wingspan was impressive. 

Herons use their sharp bills to grasp or spear their prey. With toes designed to navigate muddy lake bottoms, they wade as deep as two feet, moving slowly while watching for their next meal. They don’t land on the water, but rather stand and wait motionless, often at the edge of a pond or lake, not just watching for fish to swim by, but also looking for insects, rodents, frogs, and small birds.

Wednesday was a sunny day, and I decided that I, too, would stand on the dock and look at the lake. There, where Natasha had been earlier, I watched a two-foot steelhead lazily swim by, and then an even larger one. Both were covered with ugly white patches, but I don’t think such cosmetic flaws deter herons. Earlier in the day, Natasha had probably been watching those big fish, wondering if she dared eat one. Even though herons can swallow fish many times wider than their narrow necks, Natasha must have decided her eyes were bigger than her stomach.

She’s probably looking forward to April, when tasty fish pour out of a truck into the lake for the Moose Lodge fishing derby, fish just the right size to slide easily down her long throat.

When Natasha isn’t fishing, she’s protecting her territory. One day, I watched her as she stood on a small boat with a cabin, peering with her beady eyes into a Plexiglas window. Seeing another bird on the other side of the glass and wanting to protect her space, she began pecking at the glass, but every time she did, the other bird jutted its beak towards her. Whatever Natasha did, her reflection mirrored her actions, and she finally gave up and flew away. She’s pretty smart about fishing, but when it comes to defending herself against her own reflection, I think she’s just a bird brain.

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Filed under birding, blue heron, fishing, heron, Horseshoe Lake, The Daily News, WA, Woodland