We Like Water Wildlife

by Mary Ella and John Mark Ramer | Sep 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Marsh and wild phlox
Marsh with wild phlox. Photo © Dogwood Ridge.

The twists and turns of the Big Spring are a water-life paradise. Flowing, rippling watercress and waving mosses grow in the waters. The clear “ok-a-ree!” of the Red-winged Blackbird wafts frequently from the cattail marsh. Farther along, honeysuckle bushes overhang a quiet little pool where ducks paddle. So when we ventured forth one rainy day, we knew we would not be disappointed.

I should have counted how many Mallard ducks I saw—at least a half dozen, both male and female. Here and there we saw Canada Geese, too. One pair gave us a real thrill—two fluffy goslings followed in their parents’ path! And I marveled. So tiny…yet they knew just how to swim, with their little legs pumping the water.

Another highlight of the day was Mr. Great Blue Heron, standing tall, straight, and kingly in the flowing waters. As we passed by, he watched us with a wary eye. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t be impressed with two aliens intruding into my private, peaceful hunting grounds either! Good luck to your fishing, Mr. Heron.

Did the poem in the contest guidelines (Feb. 2022) mention snakes? I wasn’t sure, but lo and behold, on the road in front of me, there was one. No wait, two! What kind they were I could not say—perhaps some type of water snakes? No doubt they were seeking the warmth of the sun-warmed pavement.

Our second venture was a couple of days later. After supper, my brother and I rode our bikes to a different section of the spring to see what we could see. We selected a log close to the water’s edge as our vantage point and settled down to watch and wait. The evening could hardly have been more beautiful. The shallow water rippled over pebbles and mosses, and half a dozen bird conversations were going on in the distance. I wished I could understand their whistles and warbles. What do birds talk about?

Canada Geese flying
Canada Geese. Photo © Dreamstime.com.

Suddenly a sound punctuated the quiet of the evening—the sound we had been waiting for. Wild Canada Geese! Several weeks earlier we had unintentionally discovered a nest on what we called “the island”—a long thin finger of land protruding into the creek. Now we had returned to this spot with hopes of seeing their family.

Did they have goslings along? We watched eagerly as they slowly approached. No, there were no goslings, but one, two, three full-grown geese. A short way downstream from us they halted—did they see us? Like exclamation points in the middle of a sentence, they continued uttering their weird cries. Sure, I had heard geese honk before, but not like this. “Sounds like a dog,” I whispered to my brother.

“Shhhh,” was his only reply.

Several long moments later they turned and glided back downstream, much to my disappointment. “Some like birds”—we sure do!

Reluctantly we rose to leave. The sun was setting, and it was time to call another day done. The loud honks of the geese followed us as we headed back up the road. We pedaled slowly, enjoying the scenery. Tall purple phlox graced the roadside. Honeysuckle vines provided a leafy backdrop for the tiny yellow jewelweed flowers.

“Some like flowers,” the poem said. Well, that’s easy to do if you’re surrounded by such queens of the woodland!
Loathe to leave the creek, we paused another moment on the bank a bit farther upstream. Maybe we’d get to see some muskrats yet—we like animals, too!

We trekked quietly along—no muskrats. On the other side of the stream the bank rose steeply into a big hill. In the twilight it was densely green with new undergrowth. Tall trees, veterans of the forest, looked young again in their spring greenery. When Mr. Editor penned “Some like trees,” he must have been thinking of me!

And that was the extent of our explorations for that time. No bugs, bees, or beetles—we like all of those, too! And slugs? As long as they’re not on my lettuce sandwich, I think they’re cute little critters. In fact, we like all of our nature friends!

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