Thursday, April 16, 2009

what is it with ducks these days?

I've been doing 9-10 hour days with the kids all week, so my nature-time has been limited. But last night I got out of work at 7:15 and the daylight promised to float me home, so I traipsed through the park, following the whims of my feet. I didn't have my binoculars (I had planned to work until 8 and the forecast said rain anyway) but I have eyes. How often I have wished for a superpower! If I could choose, I'd pick binocular vision, so I could see wonders all the time, not just if I lug equipment along. I'm afraid of heights anyway, so I'd struggle to enjoy flying. I'm fine in airplanes though.

Over Easter weekend, while driving from Chrissy's family home to mine, I had my eyes on the grassy median between north- and southbound lanes of the highway. The median was a shallow valley that collected the rain into big puddles. We also saw some serious flurries. But twice on that short drive I laughed out loud to see pairs of ducks quite at home in the shallow puddles! I'd never seen an ordinary puddle put to such good use. Also on this drive we narrowly avoided hitting a roadkilled forest mammal(raccoon, perhaps?) but had plenty of time to see what must have been a raven flapping out into the road to pick at it. This bird was extremely tall, very black with perhaps a bluish sheen in the light, crowlike in body but with very powerful wings and quite the span. It was such a quick sighting as we drove past that I won't count it as a life bird, but damn, that thing was huge!

Anyway, walking home yesterday I entered the park at the Lafayette Monument on PPW and 9th Street and was just passing the picnic table and barbecue area when a red-tailed hawk swooped in over my left shoulder and landed on a tall and as yet budless tree. I followed and circled the tree to try to get a good photo from the front, but the bird turned around. As I tried to decide on an angle for the photo, the hawk took off and landed in an evergreen across the West Drive. I was about to follow when I heard loud quacking. This isn't a part of the park I normally associate with ducks, as the nearest water would be the Upper Pool, so I looked around confusedly. Who did I see making themselves comfortable in a temporary home on the West Drive? These two friends!

No comments: