Saturday was the nicest day of 2021 thus far. No doubt days will be getting better as we plunge into spring. The nice weather meant it was a moral imperative to get outside. The morning was spent tracking unnamed waterfalls in the Castle Crags but evening meandered into an unanticipated trip out to Trout Lake in the Shasta Valley. Though there were no clouds of any kind in the sky over Mount Shasta, I thought the high desert terrain and the (hopefully) still water of the lake might make for an interesting sunset.
When I arrived at the wildlife refuge I first went to check on Bass Lake, which was rather low. No doubt if the winter had received more precipitation it would have been full. I proceeded to Trout Lake, which was full. Though there are views of Mount Shasta from everywhere in the Shasta Valley, the vista from the Trout Lake parking lot is among the best and certainly ranks as one of the best drive-to vistas of Mount Shasta. As it turned out, there was no one there, which meant, since no one was at Bass Lake or any of the other parking areas along the route to Trout Lake, I was the only visitor in the refuge.
I set up my camera and enjoyed the changing light on Mount Shasta. As to be expected, there were a lot of birds around the lake, including geese, ducks, seagulls and the oddly-footed coots. However, one avian denizen stood out as it swam back and forth across the lake. A large white pelican and decided to take up residence in Trout Lake. Although I have seen pelicans many times at Orr Lake, I have never seen one in the Shasta Valley. I invariably associate pelicans with the sea, so seeing one happily swimming through a reflection of Mount Shasta, I find it unexpected and somewhat out of sorts.
The pelican seemed quite content swimming back and forth, from the east to the west and back again. Coots would periodically come and visit the large bird but other than these small encounters, the pelican was on its own. At first I was frustrated because its swimming marred the already imperfect reflections I was getting. However, after a few minutes I decided my perceived incongruence of seabird and Cascade volcanos made more interesting pictures anyway so I relented and allowed myself to enjoy it.
I must confess that I am not much of a wildlife guy. Unless it is a bison (for which I have an abiding appreciation), wildlife does not generate a lot of excitement for me. The geology is always my first interest and the flora is my second so birds are typically pretty far down on my interest totem pole. Yet, for some reason seeing the pelican turned out to make an ordinary, cloudless Mount Shasta sunset (still a magnificent thing!) much more appealing. Perhaps my interests are broadening!
As it turned out, the rest of the sunset was also beautiful, if devoid of the long-beaked seabird. The moon was full and some thing clouds to the east and west captured more of the sunset’s light, all of which was reflected on the still waters of Trout Lake. The entire Shasta Valley has turned green with the onset of spring, though it is still a little too early for the lupine to have sprouted. That is not too far off now. Things are looking up.
There is a wonderful flock of pelicans who summer at Lake Shastina every year. Elegant flyers. One of my favorite all time birds!
Sounds like a happily lost soul. The horn on it’s bill signifies it’s breeding season, so maybe there’s a pair. After breeding, the horn drops off. –Curt
God sent you a pelican, and he wouldn’t leave until you appreciated him enough to take his picture. 😉
At least you’re getting started on birding with one that’s easy to identify and doesn’t hide in the brush. 🙂