Growing up in Huntley Meadows

May 25, 2010

Between the seasons and the life cycles, one of the only things that’s certain in nature is change. Monday in Huntley Meadows I was startled to see the mother Merganser all alone standing on a log. Her young, five at last count, were nowhere to be found.

Every possible scenario ran through my head – Maybe they left or maybe they were eaten. Then on a resting spot they’ve used in the past I found them, some distance from the mother.

Unfortunately they were down one more, bringing the current number to four. I hope the rest of them make it.

They are nearly twice the size as the last time that I saw them and are gaining a more adult-like appearance every day.

On a quick scan of the informal trail I found little more than squirrels and herons.

The temperature seemed right for skinks or snakes, so I kept my eyes low while I backtracked toward the main trail. Instead, I only found some possible Poison Ivy.

The gosling, which began as a frail little fuzzball, is definitely gaining size and weight. I found it close to the observation tower after its parents, although concealed in the reeds, began to hiss at me.

Its neck has begun to lengthen and its feathers seem to be changing as well. I also managed to get some nice tightly composed shots as it foraged feet below me, but I’ll hang on to those in case they make the cut for the book.

Other sightings from the day included numerous frogs and toads, but none of the typical beavers or muskrats.

With little else to observe, I made a few quick portraits of a Red-winged Blackbird and made my way out.

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