It started out as a perfectly ordinary day at work. I had two inspections to make for aquatic plant control permits, so I headed out in the morning before the weekenders started taking to the roads. The first permit took me to one of the more gorgeous lake homes I had ever seen; it was good-sized but not a huge screaming look-at-me deal; the cedar siding and green roof on the Cape Cod style house fit in nicely with the site. My job there was to look for three rare species of plants; I may have found one.
The second stop took me to this beautiful site:
It was a long downhill walk to the shore. Little did I know what danger awaited me down by the dock.
An Eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) was perched on one of the dock posts, scolding me with a persistent chirping call as I stepped onto the dock. As I walked out, noting the thick beds of water lily and trying to get a look at submerged species, the kingbird was getting more and more agitated. It flew to an overhanging tree, scolding, and by then I knew it must have a nest close by. Suddenly, as I approached the pontoon boat moored to one side of the dock, all hell broke loose.
The fearless Tyrannus started dive-bombing me. At first it circled threateningly overhead, during which time I managed to capture a photo after two failed attempts. Then one swoop, and I felt its wings brush against the back of my head. Okay, I get the message, I'm outta here! If there had been an onlooker in a passing boat, I would have looked hilarious as I ran up the dock, a bird swooping after me.
Time for Plan B. The owners wanted to clear an area about 50 feet away from the dock for swimming, so I put on my waders and went out to have a look around. The kingbirds (by now the mate was scolding me as well) were still agitated, but I thought they might realize that I was now a safe distance away and that I was not out to steal their young. But as I waded waist deep among the yellow water lilies (Nuphar variegatum), one of the kingbirds started circling again. Suddenly it dove at me, and I don't think I've ever moved so fast wearing waders before. I scribbled a few quick notes and headed back up the hill. I think I heard a catbird laughing at me.
Don't mess with us!
I didn't even get a chance to see where the nest was; I didn't see anything in the overhanging tree so it may have been right in the pontoon boat. Those folks are in for a big surprise if they want to go for a boat ride this weekend...