Yesterday I was surprised at the lack of waterfowl on the Fish Creek Delta. Today, I was more surprised to see mix rafts of mallards and Canada geese feeding in the shallows near the mouth of Peterson Creek. Further down the beach four harlequin ducks plucked young mussels from barely-submerged rocks. Soon they will be joined by golden eyes and the other winter residents of Fritz Cove.
I have mixed feelings about these developments. It means a richer fall and winter for fans of water birds like the parti-colored harlequins. It also means a ramping up of the fall bird hunting season. The sound of shotgun blasts will once again mix with the sarcastic cackles of mallards and eagle screams.
The return of the winter birds usually accompanies the fading of fall colors in beachside woods. Yellow devil’s club leaves now brighten the dark under the forest canopy like reading lamps in a college library. I don’t look forward to the day in a week or two, when those lights go out.