our dark street
three deer, hoofs clacking
our dark street
three deer, hoofs clacking
rakes across the grass
a pair of deer
stops grazing to watch us pass
daylight fades away
Last summer I regularly saw a pair of blotched water snakes in the shallows of the stream near the bridge. Every day they were there, sitting in the current waiting for small fish and tadpoles to come by. When it got cold, they disappeared. After reading about Dave’s ceiling snakes, I wondered if they would come back this summer so I took a walk down to the bridge to see and sure enough, there they were just like last year.
I sat on the bridge and watched them for awhile, surprised that they should have come back to the same spot. I’m assuming, of course, that these are the same individuals as last year. Maybe they’re not and it’s just a really great spot for blotched water snakes to hunt. Either way, they didn’t seem to mind me sitting so close and even allowed me to take a few pictures.
While I was sitting there, I got the feeling that I was being observed. I turned around to have a look downstream and there was this guy:
He watched me for awhile, decided I was boring and moved on. I moved on too, walking down to the pond to see if any of the summer herons and egrets had arrived. Not yet. But there were plenty of grackles, and I heard the red-shouldered hawk calling up the trail beyond the pond.
It’s summer here now. All day, the heat and humidity crushed down and bounced shimmering off the asphalt, soaking through my shirt and slowing everything down to the summer lethargy it’s so easy to forget as soon its gone. Then it pissed rain. Thunderstorms and lightning. Tomorrow it will be scorching again and there will be no sign that water fell the night before. Such is Texas.
I’ve heard it said that you should write what you know. I think it’s just as useful to write what you want to learn. That’s part of why I enjoy writing about my birding experiences.
The day before Thanksgiving I walked to the pond down the street to see what kinds of ducks were around. Mostly Gadwalls and some Northern Shovelers. I saw a Lesser Scaup too, or so I thought. Had I looked closer I would have seen that it wasn’t a Scaup, but rather something new to me.
I posted some pictures and Ted commented and pointed out the error I had made. I consulted my Sibley guide and found that while Lesser Scaup and Ring-necks are similar, there are differences such as the white ring on the Ring-neck’s bill and the white spur on his side. Also the scaup has a grey back while the Ring-neck’s back is black.
I went back and compared pictures from a few weeks ago with a Lesser Scaup picture from last year and saw the difference.
Since I had never seen a Ring-necked Duck before (at least while knowing what it was) I walked back down today to see if there were any still there.
It’s a cold day today, but there were actually more ducks than usual. I didn’t count, but I suspect there were 20 or so Gadwalls and at least 10 Ring-necked Ducks.
I watched for awhile and tried a few pictures, but it was dark and so I had trouble getting a stable shot. Still, this one was passable and now that I know the field marks well enough to distinguish Ring-necks from Scaup, I’m confident in adding this new bird to my life list.
And then there’s the beauty of writing what you want to learn. I think I’ve learned a good bit about birds just from writing about what I’m seeing and experiencing in the field. Or in my backyard as the case may be. But, it’s easy to get overconfident and not notice what should be obvious (ie: that wasn’t a Lesser Scaup) and so the writing and posting what I think I know helps me nail down what I do know and still need to learn. I still have a lot to learn about ducks, for instance, which I’m discovering are kind of tricky.
Soon, the cold started to get to me and it was time to head home and feed the pups, but as I was going I noticed a buck nibbling the grass on the far side of the pond.
Amazing what else you can see when going out to look for birds. Of course, seeing deer around here isn’t that amazing. Had I been awake the other night I would have seen the one that came to our front porch to eat our plants.
For more bird blogging, be sure to check out I and the Bird #90.
When Daniel Boone goes by, at night
The phantom deer arise
And all lost, wild America
Is burning in their eyes
-Stephen Vincent Benét, “Daniel Boone”