Tuesday, March 10, 2009

diving dUcks

Today was, frankly, dreary.  Grey and foggy and misting all day, after a night of... yup... more rain.  At least it was warm, which is not supposed to be the case for the rest of the week.

Some ducks are migrating through.  I really enjoy ducks -- so much that I bothered to learn them! It is the one group of birds I know pretty well, an
d can identify on sight... if I have a good view.  Unfortunately, I don't carry binoculars, so generally, my view isn't good.  The ducks I saw today, for example, looked like plain black silhouettes.  The only reason I know they weren't mallards is because they dove.  Mallards are dabblers; their bones are hollow so they can't submerge themselves completely.  When they search for food, their duck butts stick up in the air.  Diving ducks, on the other hand, have solid bones.  This makes them awkward fliers, but excellent swimmers.  To me, they are a wonderful guessing game.  I could watch them forever.  They disappear in one spot and, a minute later, they pop up in a totally different location.  Where will they com
e up, and when?  I am almost never correct, but I keep guessing.  

I think maybe they seem special, too.  A bit rare, an
d yet easy to see and ID (with binocs).  Not at all like warblers -- hard to find and won't sit still.  

On to the plant world.  Call me crazy, but I think these alder catkins are swelling.  Two days ago, there was no yellow visible at all.  (Perhaps I'm grasping at phenological straws -- wanting spring when spring isn't here... I think the filbert buds are slightly bigger, too.  But I'd need a ruler ot be sure on that one.)

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