Ducks on our Dock By Hilary Williamson, August 2004
We spend summers at a lake, where our lifestyle has slowly evolved from camping in tents to camping inside the construction zone that is our unfinished log home (one of us works hard at finishing it, the others lend the occasional helping hand while enjoying lakeside amenities). Other summers have been plagued by a ravaging raccoon (see Loons, Raccoons and an Electric Outhouse) and beavers munching on our walls (we found that cayenne pepper helps fend them off, but varnished logs are even less to their taste).
This year, the beavers were busy upstream, and the raccoon raided elsewhere. Wildlife sightings (aside from a feral kitten) were rare on land, but waterfowl were active. We spotted a flotilla of loons sailing majestically down the lake, after which one adult returned to visit often, making wide, wary circles around our kayaks. And our swimming dock became a popular roosting spot. When we first anchored this small new island in the bay, we were delighted by a loon visitor ... until we realized she saw our swimming destination as a Port-a-Potty. Having adjusted to the idea of waterfowl pit stops, we were enthralled this year by close up views of a heron, who made our raft the site of his morning ablutions. Looking rather like a scrawny vulture, he groomed himself endlessly, while we waited impatiently to see his long, low, leisurely take-off, rather like a jumbo jet flapping its wings across the water. Pure magic!
Less magical but more mysterious were the next visitors, four plump ducks. Not sure what kind, but they were weighty and they waddled around their new motel room. They checked in for several nights - four blubbery blobs on a bobbing wooden platform - and only stirred when disturbed by onshore activity. But when they moved, they were as impressive in their own way as the heron - they zoomed off at high speed in four parallel lines, like water ski performers behind a speedboat!
Soon, it will be time to reel our temporary island in, and there'll be no more ducks on our dock till next summer. Wonder what they make of this disappearing landmark on the lake? Despite the white paint job they applied to their temporary abode, we hope they enjoyed their stay and that we'll see them again.
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