As my SmugMug galleries can attest, I love taking photos of birds. So when Skip’s boss loaned us his telephoto lens my first thought was to head out to Atascadero Lake and its teeming flocks of ducks and geese and grebes, with the occasional swan drifting elegantly among them, to see what I could see.

It was still a weekend, so we didn’t make it out of bed in time for golden hour, but we did defer breakfast to avoid the harsh and unflattering midday light. Guinness leapt out of the hatchback ready for a stroll, we rounded the stand of rushes hiding the lake from the parking lot and were treated to the sight of…deep Caterpillar treads crisscrossing a distinctly waterless expanse.

Apparently after a massive fish die-off the city had been left with no choice but to dredge the lake, but given the drought conditions they couldn’t afford to refill it. So over by the pavilion, what birds remained huddled like disconsolate slum dwellers in what barely qualified as a pond.

Because they were so crowded together the water had a sludgy green hue and odor, and no patch of water lay unperturbed by ripples. But thanks to the miracle of Lightroom I managed to salvage an aquatic shot or two and the tree dwellers, of course, went about their business as usual.