Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Green-winged Teal Circle Dance

After we packed to leave Alamo last Sunday we went over to Estero Llano Grande for one last outing. Lorna went for a longer hike while I hung back by the pond watching the last of the ducks that hadn't left for the north. About all that were left were teal - Blue-winged, Green-winged,  and Shovelers, which are actually also an aberrant teal. I was mostly interested in the neat little Green-winged Teal, one of my favorite ducks. Most of them sat sleeping in a neat row on a nearby log. Shortly before sundown they became active with an unusual nervous energy. 

About the time Lorna came back from her walk to the other side of the pond, following their internal command, about twenty of them swam out of the late shadows, all peeping loudly, until they were all out in the sunshine. The timing may have been just a random coincidence, but I doubt it. The late sun hit them perfectly from the side, just lighting up the iridescent green patches on the male's heads. They swan in circles around one pair, still peeping and chasing each other, the males arching their backs and raising a little crest on the back of their head, which I had never even noticed before. Eventually the first pair was replaced by another, then another.




















Then as suddenly as it began, it was over, the ducks quietly dispersed to the far corners of the pond, pretending that nothing had ever happen. The sun set, and Lorna and I went home until next year..

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