Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Birds

I set out from just inside the mouth of the river, not far from the sea, and head inland with a stiff breeze in my face, a breeze that makes the extra meanders across the river to the lee of the windward bank worthwhile.

It is a clear sky above, as blue as it gets here on the east coast with 3000 miles of land for the prevailing winds to cross over.  On the west coast in similar conditions the sky would be a pure blue color that almost hurts the eyes to look at...the visual equivalent of a pure aural tone.

The spartina has finally given up all of its green.  It is now clad in greys below the high tide mark and reds and golds above.  But, it still stands proud, the mild autumn having produced no snow to push the grasses flat.  The birds are winter birds, relatively few in number and spaced well out except for the ducks.  It is crows and gulls until I get to the stone arch bridge where I flush a great blue heron.  Just beyond that, I watch 3 hooded mergansers by peeking around the next bend. 

hooded merganser
Then I flush a small mix of black ducks and mallards.  At the gravel shallows about thirty ducks flush well before I can identify them.  The black ducks always go when I am well distant.  The interesting part of that encounter is the bird that swoops down from the trees.  It takes chase to one duck without luck.  Ducks are fast and even a hawk can only catch one before it is up to speed.  The bird does turn out to be a sharp shinned hawk, which I find surprising.  It is a small hawk and it is a bold move for it to take on a duck (or any bird equal or larger than itself).  That scene finished, I am left with a pair of downy woodpeckers overhead in a tree.

I have passed the nose of the tide by the time I reach the Foote Bridge, the current against me and the water shallow enough to signal my return.

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