You will remember that the millpond has a recently constructed addition to it in the form of a cofferdam and accompanying boom. Now, I understand that this boom is a floatation device that holds up a tarp some distance from the gravel of the cofferdam. I must admit that when it was first installed I thought the boom was anything but attractive–its arc is not uniform nor is the boom completely continuous. But nature obviously doesn’t use attractiveness as its most important criterion because the number of animals I have seen using the boom as a fishing platform or a place to rest or sunbathe is staggering. Just this morning there were thirteen ducks sitting there. These ducks, mostly the nearly mature offspring from this year’s broods, are handsome in their smooth, brown-striped plumage.
Yes, the boom has been the platform for numerous sightings ever since it was installed: a mink, an otter, a family of Green Herons, a Great Blue Heron, families of mallards, and both Snapping and Painted Turtles. All of these have used the boom as a resting place, a place from which to fish, or a place to warm themselves in the sun. And being off from the land these animals have felt secure enough not to be bothered by passers-by like myself. Even the turtles, which normally slide into the water the minute they see anyone nearby, have continued to sun and this has allowed me leisurely viewing. The boom has been a boon to both the creatures using it and people watching them use it!
The millpond (which we are so lucky to have and now know we will have for years to come) provides me with endless pleasure. Just this morning a pair of kingfishers were playing a game of tag all around the island as they kept up a constant chatter. They could be a pair of nestmates recently fledged. Or they could be a parent teaching its offspring the ins and outs of flying and fishing. Three Great Blue Herons flew over as I watched. And those thirteen ducks on the boom all in a row gave me yet something else to enjoy.
How quickly July has passed! But we shouldn’t be surprised: you have only to look around at what is in bloom in wild areas and you know immediately that summer is passing and we are into August. The Joe-Pye-Weed is thick this year and its pink heads, or umbels, of blossom are now opening. The Monarch Butterflies now have a ready source of nectar–I saw one sipping just this morning. Our various types of goldenrod are already coming into bloom and soon vast areas will be gold. Please remember that goldenrod in not responsible for hayfever. Its pollen is too heavy to float on the air.
It has been a banner year for the House Wren. All over the village I have heard the males’ distinctive song–at times I have heard at least three males singing and answering each other as they define their territory and try to lure a female. In my yard alone there have been three nests. But in August their ebullient singing falls silent as the mating season ends for another year. I am always sad when one morning I am no longer greeted by these gushes of music. However, I remember that the late-nesting goldfinches will continue to charm my ears throughout August.
The hot, heavy days of August are upon us. The sights, sounds and smells of this opulent season are ours to admire and drink in, arming us against the inevitable winter to come. With all of this richness do get out, whether it be a walk or simply standing at your open door or window. Get out! And enjoy!
By Glen Spurrell