This Bird Is Laughing At Us!

It was another lovely summer day, clear and sunny, and we had made plans to visit my parents. It was the first time we'd seen them since the family reunion back in July, and they seemed to be doing well. Both were in good spirits, we had a lovely visit, and they treated us to some tasty summer snacks from the local Creme Stop. My own lunch consisted of a steak hoagie with tomato dressing, some crispy fries, and a small vanilla milk shake. We visited for a few hours and swiped a bag full of their pretty, round, red tomatoes from my father's garden.

Around mid-afternoon, we took our leave of them, as we had hoped to fit in a quick swim at a local state park that we don't visit often. In taking a different route home from my parents' house, we could easily cut over to get the park. And so by mid to late afternoon, we found ourselves at Greenwood Furnace, a state park we have visited before, but probably not in 20 years.

We found the place rather crowded - well, it was a sunny late-summer afternoon, after all - and in pulling in and seeing how many cars were there, we almost left without swimming. We debated for a few minutes what to do. Should we go to another park nearby? But in the end, since we were already stopped, we decided to have a quick swim, after all.

The water was green and chilly and inviting, and we had our coolest and most refreshing swim of summer there. It had the feel of the glacier-cut lakes in New York. For instance, it reminded me of Green Lakes, not far from the Finger Lakes, which we visited a few years back. Green Lake is very deep and the surface and bottom layers never mix, which is why it is referred to as a meromictic lake. I am sure the waters of Greenwood Furnace are nowhere as deep as that, but that's what it called to mind.

I was getting into the water to have my first swim, doing that step-and-gasp, step-and-gasp thing that you do when the water is very chilly, when I suddenly noticed a rather large bird sitting along the edge of the swimming area. I wasn't sure what it was, but it was apparent that it was quite comfortable there, among people, and a lady swimming near us mentioned she had seen it sitting there for several hours.

I admit it was one of those times I wished for a waterproof camera, or perhaps to make it even easier, a waterproof camera mounted on my forehead. I watched a woman swim up rather close to the large bird, and I imagined the sort of photo I might get from that angle. However, I had my swim and watched the bird, growing impatient in the fear that it would leave before I got out of the water. And so when I was done with my swim, I went and got my camera out and snagged a bunch of shots with the camera's zoom.

My bird-loving friends have identified this creature as a double-crested cormorant, possibly a juvenile. Cormorants are widely distributed across North America, and apparently they're quite common along fresh water sources. However, this might just be the first one I've actually met face-to-face.

Cormorants like to swim and dive deep to catch fish. Their feathers are not waterproof, so after swimming, they like to raise their wings in the air to dry off. I saw this bird doing just that, and it looked almost like a flasher, standing there with its wings open. That would have been a neat shot, but it assumed that pose only briefly while I was in the water swimming. So the shot for the day is one of the bird with its beak open, apparently laughing at us all.

The song to accompany this image of a laughing bird is the Bee Gees, with I Started a Joke.

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