A flat, easy walk

At the shallow end of the reservoir lies East Area at Round Valley Recreation Area. A developed picnic area just a short distance from the beach. Mid-morning on a Monday in October.

We arrive in the first parking lot that looks like an accessible picnic spot with a view of the water. Crows reel around a solitary red tailed hawk. Canada geese paddle far off. We open our tubs of cheese and crackers and pasta; we switch after a few forkfuls. A Cooper's hawk perches in a tree just off the reservoir.

An osprey whirls by, low and lands in another tree facing the reservoir. We bite into an Asian pear and apple each. We alternate between eating and watching with our binoculars.

From a nearby tree, the Cooper's hawk leaves her perch and scatters a murder of crows from the parking lot. She lands in a maple, perches, and flies on. I scan the sky for ducks and hawks.

"Osprey! Osprey! Osprey!" Jared exclaims. I drop my binoculars into my lap.

I see the osprey about 20 feet above the water's surface, and then splash into the reservoir. Only the birds talons and legs break the surface. Away the osprey flies with a fish glinting in his grip. The crows ignore the osprey, we wonder why and we wonder why the osprey flies away to eat.

Water Trail--the reservoir becomes deeper and we observed no water birds, but fishermen and kayakers paddled by as the clouds gathered.

We take the flat and easy Water Trail which follows the water's edge. In a cheerful mood, the mixed coniferous plantation reminds us of Maine, with many invasive plants and without the bog plants and the long drive. Some of the Chinese bushclover has been parasitized -- dozens of stems show grotesque swelling. Could be great news.

Black locusts, sycamores, and red cedars grow along the shore.

A robust patch of mountain mint. Virgina mountain mint also grows at Round Valley. We noticed the aroma of Virginia mountain mint is not minty.