Duck Diplomacy

The mallards are gathering along Fish Creek. A medium-high flood tide is pushing them off the wetlands in threes and fours. They fly past the face of Mendenhall Glacier and up the creek, circle like they are waiting for a parking place to open up, and then splash down on the water. Each new group of arrivals is welcomed with maniacal mallard laughs. 

            Some of the incoming ducks are American widgeons. After they settle on the water, they chuckle hellos to the mallards. Widgeon diplomacy must work. In no time the mallards and widgeons are peacefully sharing the same water.

            This morning most of the birds are heard but not seen. Two eagles screech when we walk close to their roosts but we will never spot them. The trail side woods are full of junkos and siskins too shy to show themselves. Unseen varied thrusts punctuate the smaller birds’ songs with their shrill one note calls. 

            A small raft of Barrow golden-eye ducks cruises near the Fritz Cove shore. Each drake looks like a miniature common loon.  Further off shore several buffle-head drakes start squabbling over fishing rights until two of them leave. One of them walks on water for a meter before going airborne. Soon all the buffleheads are spread out like naval pickets on blockade duty. When one splash dives on bait fish every bufflehead on the cove collects around it. 

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