|Snow Dust on the Ranch|
|Active Pond, Once Again|
|Diverse Crowd, Hood on the Right|
Except that the trails are moving.
It's been so long since I've had an excuse to grab the binoculars, I almost forget the pattern of bird watching. They are back! They are back! I grab my red flannel bathrobe, step into Todd's white tennis shoes by the west door and I slip-slide-regain-balance down the icy porch step and onto the snow-crusted grass.
Todd and the dogs are surprised to see me shuffle-running (the best I can do in big shoes and slick ground) across the pasture toward the pond. Even now the apple tree is my best viewing vantage. I am so excited to see the...oh, for pete's sake what are they...not ringed-necks, not wigeons...
"Todd," I shout to my husband who is watching with the dogs from between the two wood barns, "What are our visitors?"
"Buffleheads," he shouts back.
No they aren't. I look through the binoculars, snap photos with my camera, zoom in...no, they are not buffleheads. "No," I say.
"Uh-huh," he says. It's starting to sound familiar, this argument over who our migratory visitors are. We debate white versus black feathers, head shape and diving patterns. It's when I see them dive I remember. Some are hooded mergansers. I am so delighted, as in all-day delighted.
Each time I step outside or go to the window, there they are, making silver trails. Gliding, diving, devouring fish, they almost seem famished. Actually, Todd is right--there are at least two male buffleheads in the group and a few other ducks we can not seem to identify. One seems to have a "shoveling" beak.
How lonely the pond has felt. I thought our spring visitors had passed us by on the way home, south. Perhaps the small squall brought them here; maybe it's the shorter days. Whatever the reason, I am savoring the silver trails across Elmira Pond.