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With heavy clouds and 68’ temperature, seven Trailblazers headed off from Willow Creek Boat ramp for a pleasant leisurely paddle. We had the lake to ourselves this day, except for one kayak fisherperson. The weather looked threatening but only produced occasional light sprinkles and calm winds. No raingear needed this trip. The lake was ten feet lower than our May trip as scene in the bathtub rings on the shore cliffs. That shrank the lake’s size in half, so this trip no paddling among the flooded willows.
Group made up of variety of boats, from inflatables, short recreation sit-ins to light touring kayaks. Sonny showed off his new sleek Skylark touring model while Kelley initiated her new Lifetime. This replaces Kelley’s formerly new kayak that took on water her last trip with the club.
Group paddled clockwise exploring the dells rock formations first, at a slow leisurely pace to enjoy the cooler temps and smooth water. No rush on this day. After the dells, the water was a carpet of Pink Smartweed in bloom. Beautiful but hard to paddle through! Other areas of Willow Lake were chocked with algae ad aquatic weeds, which the group tried to go around as the weedy vines caught the paddle blades on each stroke making headway difficult.
But all those aquatic plants and flowers made Willow Lake a Birder’s Paradise! Among those we could identify were sparrows, finches, grebes, herons, snowy egret, hawk, cormorants, gull, wood ducks, gadwalls, mallards, long billed dowitcher and something that reminded us of Puffins, but obviously weren’t.
After one lap around the lake, it was noon and half the group called it a day. The other half ate lunch on the dock while using Lee’s common bird placards to identify the birds we saw. After lunch, the remaining group did another lap around the lake as sun started to peak through.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona updated October 28, 2023
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