A few days ago I noticed a group of Hooded Mergansers on a pond near our house. I didn’t have time to stop that day, but today’s mild weather convinced me to spend a few hours with my camera.
I counted eight mergansers on the pond today (four males and four females), as well as a pair of Mallards and a pair of Northern Shovelers.
On the banks, a Great Egret watched from one side and a Great Blue Heron from the other.
This was the day’s smallest pond, and it had the most birds. A much larger pond (more lake than pond) a few miles away was mostly deserted. Three seagulls rested in the middle, and two Pied-billed Grebes fished near the shore.
Finally, we drove through a growing neighborhood that was landscaped with several mid-sized ponds, each populated with sleepy mallards.
All afternoon clouds gathered and thickened in the sky, and by the time we returned home wind was beginning to blow the day’s warmth out to sea. Now rain is on the horizon, followed by icy cold. I’m sure many of the smaller ponds will freeze over, and again I find myself wondering about the birds. Do they know what is coming? Do they already know where they will go, when ice drives them out? I know where I’ll be–curled up with my blankets and books and cats, grateful as always for the luxuries of home.