The Ibis Dances

White headed ibis, wings extended, at lake's waterline.
White-headed ibis spreads its wings.

Bridgeport Lake is about three miles northeast of the town. It’s a water source and a recreational spot, I would say mostly for fishing. We passed a small marina and parked in the boat ramp area, a narrow inlet of the lake that ran north. We walked down the boat ramp and about the length of a football field to get to the water’s edge. Just a reminder: generally, boat ramps go into the water, so you can launch your boat.

Boat ramp, dry land beyond until you reach the water.
I’m not saying the lake is low, but this is a boat ramp.

This was our second day in Bridgeport, and the wind had shifted, sending the smoke from the Sequoia fire sweeping down the mountains and into the valley.

Expanse of lake with smoke obscuring the mountains.
Bridgeport Lake and smoke

The white-headed ibis is, apparently, the only ibis that inhabits the west. The birds winter in California’s southeast. This one and the second bird with it were finding plenty to eat along the shoreline. Here’s another photo that shows off the bird’s characteristics.

Ibis. White colored head, curved beak, shimmering greenish wings .Mark Speaker Yuan identified the bird.
Ibis gets a snack. Thanks to Mark Speaker Yuan for the bird ID.

The ibis shared the shore with blackbirds, seagulls and a pair of white pelicans, which I mistook for swans when I first saw them at a distance.

White pelican floats on lake, reflections of yellow and brown.
White pelican
Reflection of hill and landscape in still water.

We also found these strange structures formed of matted vegetation, possibly algae, along the shore. No one was more than three inches high. Does the stuff just dry this way? I don’t think so. Each one had a dot of whitish, opaque substance at its top, which bore a striking resemblance to the amount of guano around. All of them formed peaks, even the elaborate ones. So far, no luck determining what they are. Anyone know?

UPDATE: Juliette Wade provided the answer. At the lake bottom, a twig or stick might poke upright or slanted, and the algae would form around it. As the water drains, the vegetation mats down around it in a tent formation.

Pyramid structure from dried vegetation on shore.
Weird structure
Second structure with a penny next to it so show scale.
The penny’s for scale.

Generally, Bridgeport during the day was a very quiet town (it wasn’t at night when the trucks rolled through), and Bodie had been supernaturally still, but across the road from this end of the lake is the home of the Bridgeport Gun Club. It was the opposite of quiet.

We walked back up to the picnic tables, munched on some snacks, and watched magpies, blackbirds, ground squirrels and one brave rabbit forage in the green, irrigated lawn area.

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