November 20, 2003
The sky was clear when I left my house, but the marsh was enveloped in a dense fog. In the distance a small shrub could appear to be a heron. In the middle distance, it was impossible to tell a gadwall from a mallard. A spider web covered with drops of dew enveloped each stalk of red topped grass. AS the fog lifted, they sparkled like gems in the mist. When I reached the marsh beyond the large pond, the sun was finally burning off the fog, and the ducks became distinguishable as individuals. I could identify them as members of particular species.
Soon the sky was clear and the ducks and geese made a mass exodus. It began with a pair of ducks flying over. This excited the ducks and geese below to rise on the water and flap their wings in anticipation of their own departure. Soon the excited honking of the geese and the wild quacking of mallards filled the air. As the geese lifted off, the white and brown bands of their tails flashed in the sun. Likewise the green wing patch of the teal sparkled as they reached eye level. Soon, only a few mallards, shovelers and pintail remained on the water.
AS they left, I noticed a white spot on the top of a dead snag. On closer examination, it was a Belted Kingfisher, a bird that seldom remains for close examination once spotted. It launched off and flew to the center of the large pond. Another kingfisher appeared and the two engaged in an aerial ballet. As they swooped above the water, frequently diving at each other, I was not certain if I witnessed a territorial battle or a courtship, though the time of year would indicate territorial maneuvering.