I wanted to make an undetectable approach to the beaver pond so I left the usual trail for a more casual one. Aki waited on the good trail for me to return to my senses. In minutes, after I have made enough noise to wake a sleeping dragon, I rejoin the little dog. Well that blew any chance of sneaking up on the heron.
Aki and I had startled a great blue heron when we first circled the beaver pond. It whooshed over our heads and flew to the other side of the pond, squawking like a barnyard goose. Given the winged hunter’s reluctance to leave, I hoped that it might return while we walked to the beach and back into the woods.
With a faint hope that the heron was hard of hearing, I lead my little poodle-mix to the main trail and find, not the expected heron but a mallard hen. She stands, still as a statue at the edge of the pond. Three of her chicks, partially hidden by grass, sleep while their mom stands watch.
Duck hunting season is closed or a hunter could easily orphan the mallard chicks. The hen isn’t worried about humans carrying guns. She doesn’t flinch when I move closer for a better view of her kids. But she twitches each time a nearby eagle screams. No one is going to cite an eagle or heron for hunting out of season. Had our earlier appearance at the pond saved the ducklings from the heron?