This Morning’s Walk – Random Obervations from April 17th

Courting yellow-shafted flickers, the male at the top of a dead branch, the female lower on the same branch. The male drums, moves his head to the left, fans his tail. The female moves her head to the right. Back and forth they do this, the male drumming every third or fourth time, heads moving back and forth in precise time. He’s dressed to impress, every black dot on his buff-yellow breast crisp, his red nape gleaming, his tail feathers glowing gold in the morning sun. The dance goes on for about five minutes, until the male flies to another drumming perch to beat a louder cannonade. There is no visible response from the female.

A small, thin, whistle from high in the maples catches my attention. Looking up, thinking to find a small bird, I find instead a male wood duck, standing on a branch. I watch his bill open and close as the thin ‘zeeting’ is repeated. Definitely him. An unexpected sound from a duck.

Walking through Victoria Woods, a funnel of leaves rises and falls from the forest floor, rising to no more than a foot or so off the ground, falling nearly to nothing, then rising again, moving east to west. I can see the track of disturbed leaves several meters into the woods. It looks animate, or animated by something invisible – which of course it is: a small whirlwind. But the experience had an odd feel, as if I was seeing something of faerie, not this world.

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