sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 20, 2005

posted by soe 11:50 am

I thought I’d share with you some of the D.C. neighbors we met while out riding on Saturday:

We set out around 5:30 p.m. First we met a large family:

wood duck family

Wood duck families were everywhere on the canal. You can tell they’re wood ducks by the large white circle around Mama’s eye, the tuft on the back of her head, and by the whistling sound they make.

Next, we caught up with a familiar neighbor. We had seen him in the distance walking on the canal towpath, but by the time I caught up with him, he’d stepped off, ostensibly to let me pass (he’s only a foot or so off the path here):

Great Blue Heron

When he posed for this shot, he was less than 10 feet away from me. Eventually some other noisy passerbys made him a bit nervous and he decided he’d better head back to the other side of the canal and contemplate supper.

The turtles were feeling camera-shy and dove under the water every time I got close enough to snap a shot.

Eventually, we hit Maryland and decided to turn around. This shot is from the dam near the kayak course:

Potomac River

Apparently news of our adventure had made the rounds, and some new neighbors came out to greet us as we came back into D.C.

We stood quite a while and watched this young’un on the other side of the canal:

a fawn

Mama never materialized, so either this was a solo adventure to teach Baby how to fend for itself or it was on its own. I’m hoping Baby gathers a little more fear — we were on the other side of the canal and no real threat, but I would have felt a little less worried if it had eventually disappeared back into the brush. But it was mealtime, so perhaps it just didn’t want to allow us to interrupt its dinner.

Another newcomer also refused to allow its supper to be postponed.

black-crowned night-heron

This black-crowned night-heron didn’t even look up when four of us stood and pointedly debated who it was. (The bird book Gramma gave me when I was in third grade or so has gotten a lot of use recently.) Instead he focused all his attention on what was lurking in the water under a nearby bush. He did eventually look up as we left. (Interestingly, this water bird roosts in trees during the day.)

And, finally, as we approached the end of the trail, the Canada goose family was there to wish us a fond farewell.

Canada goose family

There are five babies (one is lying down behind its fellow nestlings on the right) and four adults in this group. The babies were lying just inches off the path and the adults took it remarkably well when Rudi came close to snap this shot. As we were watching, a family with teenagers floated by on the canal. The youngsters were pretty much full-sized and were molting to match their folks. Eventually, everybody headed upstream, and Rudi and I exited the path to head back home.

It’s really amazing how much nature is around us here in the District. I mean, I more associate pigeons, squirrels, starlings, and rats with being the native Washingtonians than I do with this bunch. But they really are here — we just have to slow down to notice them.

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