Every spring and fall, ducks of all kinds pause here at the pond during their seasonal migration. Those visiting in the largest numbers are the tiny Buffleheads, the slightly larger Ruddy Ducks, the peppy Hooded Mergansers, and the uncommonly graceful Common Mergansers.
This fall the mergansers barely touched down before they were on their way again. The fishing was off. A small sunfish, the bluegill, had been a mainstay of their diet. Once abundant in the pond, it is now scarce due to a massive die-off last March.
The Bufflehead flock was small this fall. It lingered for only a few days, but was followed by a steady stream of stragglers. The Ruddy Ducks, more cohesive, will leave en masse after several weeks’ stay. These two species dive for aquatic insects, and aquatic plants at the bottom of the shallow pond, so they were not affected by the fish kill.
The photo was taken at 7:46 am on October 18, 2012. Dawn officially arrived at 7:01 that day. When the sun topped the eastern ridge twenty minutes later, its low, brilliant light set the scene aglow in exotic color.