Sunday, February 27, 2011
Why a Duck
It is snowing yet again today, as this shortest of months crawls by. Trying to find some cheer, here are some recent lovely frost flowers from one of those below-zero nights we are still having. But if yours are this pretty, you might want to consider new windows.
Earlier this month, like a breath of fresh (spring?) air, near sunset at Centennial Beach the temps were still in the mid-forties. There was a super-low tide and many seagulls paddling about, no doubt happy not to be hunkered down in a windchill, as was I.
There has been alot of bird activity over the past few weeks, especially at the bird feeders of a friend's home on the backshore. The variety that came by for me included a piliated woodpecker, some goldfinches in their drabber winter coats, sparrows and chickadees and a spectacular northern flicker. Only the hairy woodpecker (I'm guessing from the description in my Sibley's) sat still long enough for the photo while he was enthusiastically concentrating on the suet.
There seems to be alot more action at the feeders when heavy weather is coming, so perhaps birds are the better predictors for us of what's ahead. My guide Maine Birds says that birds in winter - especially the small ones - must eat continually and that the snowy days make it all that much harder for them. Therefore, the popularity at the seed bar and the birds lack of surprise when the snow starts. I'm still waiting to hear more varied birdsong at dawn, but the crows are still the solitary singers (or rather squawkers) for my mornings. The summer visitors start migrating in during March, so that will slowly start to change soon.
Why a duck? Why not. From the sublminity of the feeder, comes this fairly ridiculous interaction with a mallard who was met walking calming down the middle of New Island Avenue. He was unfazed by being accompanied, qwacked a bit in a talking-to-yourself kind of way, and did not appear injured or unable for fly. It seemed he was just out for a stroll, although I was stumped as to why he was there - food? boredom? Next day there were two drakes and a hen, all waddling along the same street, all looking fine. I read up that they do eat birdseed, so perhaps they heard about the feeder on the duck hotline and were headed up there themselves.
With this most unloved of months nearly over and so few signs of warmer weather to come, I need a reminder that blooming things will again be on my horizon In the interim, here's something lovely to focus on, a big juicy Valentine's floribunda. Spring - even a Maine spring - is three weeks away.