Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing Ada and Lula. Or, a little bit about pond life

Alden yelled to me, one morning a little while back, to come and look, there were "some ducks on the pond." We have this little pond at the bottom of our backyard. Alden has a view of it from his bedroom window.

I loved it that he was doing a little birdwatching out his window, and up I went, to see what he was seeing. I figured it would be something boring, maybe not even a duck… I looked, and I looked again, and some more. Got the binoculars out and, after looking through them, decided that what he was seeing was something way more interesting than I ever could have imagined: mergansers. Wow. We made Ray get up and come look and his determination was a pair of hooded merganser hens.

We continued to see them for days, just in the early morning, before the day had really begun. After a number of visits, I said, "one more day of seeing them, and I’m going to name them." and, indeed, they showed up again. So, I give you Ada and Lula, our very own backyard hoodies.

Don't bother squinting: they are not in the pond in this picture. Sorry, never managed to get any pictures of them.

They did then stop coming. Sad. Although, as the days get longer and longer and the sun rises earlier and earlier, maybe it is just that they are there at dawn, but head out before we get up. Ray and I are also both pretty sure we saw at least one of them on a nearby body of water.

In other pond life and pond sightings: we have at least two resident turtles. The one I have seen is impressively big and suns himself on the edges of the pond when there’s good sun for sunning. Ray has seen two of them at one time, so we know there are more than one.

Wandering around and looking in to the pond we have seen fish and crayfish, quite a good number of them, in fact. Then of course there are the frogs, quite a few, cute little things. And, finally, our best recent sighting was of a pair of wood ducks, again, pretty early in the morning. They stuck around for a good long time that morning, and we were able to really get a good look at them. Sadly, they were only here that one morning (so far.)

Note: Ada and Lula are old family names on Ray’s sides. Once upon a time, if we had had a baby girl, we might have named her Ada. Some of you may also remember Esme, our resident nesting mommy robin, last spring in Colorado. Esme was another choice-name for a hypothetical baby girl. Apparently I am still trying to figure out ways to use those names I loved. So, if there’s a bird hanging around my backyard for more than a fleeting moment, I’ve got a good name for her!

New note: Closer inspection of the bird book (I prefer National Geographic), and a bit of actual reading of the labels reveals the possibility that this was not a pair of hens, as we suspected, but rather a male/female pair, with the male being "first spring", and therefore not yet in typical male plumage. So, perhaps Lula is not in fact Lula, but rather Lou, or Louis, or something like that.

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