Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer at Schoolhouse

I returned to Schoolhouse Pond in Upper Marlboro on a recent morning. I was hoping to see the Black-crowned Night Herons. I hadn't seen them in a while at Depot Pond and I had heard they were hanging out at this pond. I failed to find them. You can tell school is out as there was very little activity compared to the winter months when large numbers of ducks, geese, and seagulls inhabit the pond. I was surprised at how much of the pond has transformed into something looking more like marsh than  pond. The actual open water area appears to be less than half of the area. The area around this Wood Duck box use to be under water.

I did see a solitary sandpiper. That is the name of the species: Solitary Sandpiper. It flew in fairly close and didn't seem to mind my being there, but when I tried to slowly move a little closer, it flew. I didn't feel like chasing it. The olivaceous legs separate it from the Lesser Yellowlegs which looks similar.

Is that just a lump of mud kind of shaped like a turtle or could that really be a snapping turtle hunkered down in the mud? I stopped to consider that question and noticed the head move ever so slightly. I don't know how it could see me — or anything else for that matter. But I knew if I didn't walk away, I was going to disturb it and it was going to move and have to start all over again camouflaging itself. I walked away. No sense making it's life any harder than it already is. I would be interested in knowing what made the scuff up around where it's "collar" would be which looks like it was made at a later time than the rest of the mud.

Here is a picture of domestic tranquility. A flock of ducks and a single goose enjoying a morning preening and bathing. The ducks appear to be American Black Ducks although I sometimes have trouble distinguishing female Mallards from them, so I could be wrong. The interesting one — to me anyway — is the goose. The reason why she is here in the company of ducks instead of somewhere else in the company of her own kind is because she cannot fly. Her wing has been broken since at least last winter yet she has survived despite her disability.

Perhaps one of my all-time favorite photographs (that I have taken) is a picture of the same goose from last winter. I like everything about this photo — the lowered head, the pigeon-toed feet, the texture of the ice she is walking across, and the posture of the goose that conveys the message that life isn't always easy. I had other photos where the wing was more noticeable, but even in this image you can tell something isn't right with that wing.

While I was there, I spent a few minutes trying to take pictures of the Barn Swallows plying the pond for insects. They are devilishly hard to film due to not only being extremely fast, but also due to their penchant to change directions suddenly. Out of a hundred attempts, you might be lucky to get one image. Don't let anyone fool you; large birds are much easier to film than these little ones.

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