Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter Ducks

The Lotus Island Harbour is teeming with American Widgeons and Bufflehead Ducks today! Vegetarians and carnivorians! Dabbling ducks and diving ducks. They will be here all winter in our little spot in the harbour to our great delight. The Eagles have not returned yet to begin their connubial activity so the ducks have a short reprieve. The Widgeons crowd serenely together and float along, seemingly unhurried, occasionally dabbling down when close to shore for plant food. They don't need to hurry because the plants wait for them! Their pace is unruffled! Why wouldn't it be? They are the gatherer society. The little Buffleheads skitter along, wings flapping repeatedly, posturing and diving and darting hither and yon! You can always identify them by the wake they leave; they move so fast with both feet and wings going a mile a minute; in or on the water chasing flesh! No wonder they are in a hurry. Their prey waits for no Bufflehead, and they are the hunter society! The seagulls pester them, hoping they will drop the prey but the Buffleheads have an answer to that hunter society. They swallow their prey under water where no seagull will go. They spend much of their time swimming around and through the Widgeon flock: they look like Hares among the Tortoises. Curiously the only ducks we usually see now are these two species. In days of yore there were many winter species that visited but the varieties seem to have dried up. I don't know why. The harbour provides an abundant source of both plant and animal foodstuffs and the species don't compete because of the nature of their diet. Aside from the Eagles their winter sojourn is untroubled! For the pianist and me, familiarity never breeds contempt!

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