19 August 2009


IIII ) llllllllllllllllllllll Mallard Greeting (15Aug09)

0947 Ihkitsikammiksi - the Sun gave seven magical environmental features to ensure the life of future generations escape annihilation: mountains, rain, coulee canyons, forests, wind, lightning, and the atmosphere. Each provides a buffer, a balancing, an opportunity for us to gain a little distance on cold, pursuing death. There's no such thing as "just weather"... this ceaseless rain, continuing through a full moon cycle beyond the norm, is a warning, another chance to escape. But are we, hidden away in false security behind our climate-controlled walls, going to take heed? Are we going to use the opportunity, or just sit here on the other side of the rain storm and wait for our pursuer to catch up?

2005 Sspopiikimi - already in shadow, Naato'si having gone down beyond the coulee rim. Tomorrow we'll have a more thorough visit. Tonight, at least a survey. During my nap, I dreamed that the gosling was with family

2011 We walk in from the north end, where a whitetail deer is walking the ridge between the pond and Old Man River. There's a ksisskstaki crawling up into the wet meadows here, wading in amidst the hemp, probably to get at the nested seam of rabbit willow. We can hear one of the baby swainsons crying for their nest in the south

2018 Good news for the misfit coot chick... it is feeding midpond with its age-mate and its friend's parents, and seems to have been accepted into their family (at least for the evening). As we watch these coots, an intruder hawk sweeps in and is immediately set upon by the swainson parents, who chase it downriver, twice bumping it with dives from above

2029 Nearing the main lodge, we see one of the ksisskstakiiksi swim out to the midpond wet meadows and enter a canal in the cattails which a mother mallard and her subadult duckling have just emerged from. As we watch these ducks bob for food in the pond, we become engaged in small conversation with a shivering homeless man (Ray) and his caregiver (Madeline) who are visiting this pond for the first time, though Ray grew up in Lethbridge from the age of eleven

2043 At the ksisskstakioyis, we see the scabby redhead and her two chicks accompanied by a mallard. As they pass a family of three other mallards, the one splits-off quite purposefully from the redhead and joins that group. When it does so, it greets the three other mallards bill to bill and then cheek to cheek in a kind of nuzzle (something we've never seen before), then begins feeding with them. The redhead and her chicks swim away to the north

2101 Patches follows us just off-shore as we continue our walk to the south end of the pond. There are several mallard families out at this end amidst the islands, but so far no sign of the gosling. It's fairly dark now though, so there's a good possibility that it is just laying down somewhere we can't see. But on the other hand, perhaps my dream was accurate, and its family returned to take the gosling away

2118 Aww... the dream must have been wishful, because as we're starting our walk back to the truck, and a great horned owl begins singing its night song from the woods beyond the south levy, we come upon the lone gosling floating quietly off-shore

IIII ) lllllllllllllllllllllll Hawklings (16Aug09)

1826 Sspopiikimi - walking in from the north again this evening, our plan is to combine some observation time with another harvesting of currants

1828 Along the midpond section to the main ksisskstakioyis, we passed the northern coot family (now five surviving young), the southern coots with their two chicks (one a midpond adopt), a mallard family of four, another with two ducklings, and the scabby redhead family. It's early for all but the northern coots to be up at this end of the water

1835 Usually the swainson hawklings are crying when we arrive. We've grown so used to their calls that the absence of this sound so far this evening is immediately registered by both of us. We don't see the young hawks standing around the nest either, and now it's becoming a question of whether they may be on the wing finally

1840 We stop for a break in front of the ksisskstakioyis, just as the juvenile spotted sandpiper does the same. Surprised with the cool wind and recent rain how many people are here this evening - a couple out for a walk, a group of three briefly exploring the wet meadows, and a lone fly-fisherman heading to the river

1851 The hawklings have just awoke, they were merely bedded down below the nest rim, out of sight. Piipiiaakii is staying by the ksisskstakioyis to watch and rest her legs. I'm making my way around the south end of the pond, to see if I can get a closer view. On the way, I pass the lone gosling, feeding on the golf green. There are about a dozen mallards dipping around the southern islands. And I notice how black the chokecherries have become, and how brightly yellow the goldenrod

1915 I make my way around the pond and through the woods, slowly moving closer until I find a perfect pocket of brush near the subpond where I can conceal myself below the nest. Of course, the hawklings notice me, as do the swarms of mosquitoes, and one male pheasant who bursts out of the grass beside me

1921 Piipiiaakii tells me, via text, that the gosling has just flown. Some kid was chasing it with a golf club, trying to hit it. Typical illogical, brutish, violent, and stupid human behavior. Damn. In any case, the gosling escaped to an island. Some of its wing feathers are noticeably damaged, which is why we figure it was unable to move with its family. But it must be healing now, no thanks the golfers

1927 Piipiiaakii also tells me that the caspian turn is back, hunting the south end, and that she's getting pictures of its dives. I'm waiting to see if the hawk parents bring a meal in. Meantime, I'm jealously looking at the tern in the distance

2002 I sit with the hawklings for a half hour, with no sign of the parents. These babies are getting restless, crying repeatedly and occasionally flying to or from a neighboring tree. I know eventually the parents will come with food, but maybe it's better I'm not here when they do. I pack up my equipment and start making my way back to Piipiiaakii

2020 I catch up to Piipiiaakii beside the gosling, who she's visiting. She said it was down in the pond looking at her, debating whether or not to approach. Piipiiaakii just stood quietly and she could see the moment in its face, when the gosling made its decision to approach. It walked right up beside her and started feeding beside her, and that's where I found the two of them

IIII ) llllllllllllllllllllllll Gosling Visit (17Aug09)

1841 Sspopiikimi - nearly crawling, I'm so bent-over with lower back spasm. We're slowly making our way out to sit beside the path that the gosling takes on its way up the grassy slope to eat

1844 Midpond there's a congragation of mallards, mothers and sub-adult ducklings. There's fourteen of them, along with the southern coots, their chick, and their foster child. We get to watch a great blue heron for a few minutes, just long enough to catch a fish before it takes wing

1855 Arriving to our chosen seat for the night, we can see the gosling far out amidst the southern islands, just below the duck blind. There are three mallards here as well, quacking and dipping for food

1919 The swainson hawklings have awoke, and are now dancing around the branches by their nest, crying for food. Otherwise the pond is quiet, the beavers and muskrats have yet to emerge

1949 Finally the gosling decides to make his way to our shore. Before climbing up, he swam down below us and gave a few honks. We gave some honks in return, and we had a little conversation. Then the gosling made some purposeful head nods, preened for a few seconds, swam straight to shore and climbed up on the bank to feed nearby

2035 Each time someone comes walking up the path toward us, the gosling runs down the embankment, sometimes entering the water, on other occasions ducking down behind high grass. These passers-by don't even take notice