The Morning Parade Begins

Rick Brockway

As I’ve said many times, we spend our summers next to our pond in our fifth wheel camper. It’s definitely a touch of heaven. Nature is at its best early in the morning, providing us with a multitude of wonderful happenings.

Every morning three young ducklings swim over to the swimming area below our camper. They splash in the water and spend some time preening their feathers. Their mother has disappeared for several days. Maybe she got tired of waiting for them to fly.

This morning I watched two young bucks come down to the other side of the pond to drink. They were probably the twin fawns that grew up in the meadow last year. One day last spring they wandered up out of the tall grass towards our camper. We watched them for several minutes as they stood there, wondering what that big white thing was. Since then the camper never moved, I guess they just accepted it.

Like clockwork, the turkeys come down the hill and feed where I have mowed. There are two hens and eleven poults. I think they were a late hatching. The cold wet spring probably killed the first batch. It's interesting to watch them feed. The two hens work their way across the field in a definite pattern, and all the chicks spread out and follow behind, picking up insects as they go. They are like little vacuum cleaners. When they get to the other side, they move down about twenty feet and come back across. Tomorrow they’ll cover a different section of the old pasture or meadow.

We have a doe with a spotted fawn that comes out most every day. Yesterday the baby came out of the taller grass right where the turkeys were feeding. Neither the deer nor the turkeys were concerned. In fact, we watched the fawn walk right up to one of those feathered chicks and sniff it. The turkey could care less.

Up in the big white pines over on the bank closer to the road, there is a crow’s nest. The two noisy black birds raise a batch of chicks in that same tree every year. A few weeks ago they left the nest for the first time. Mom, dad, and three youngsters sat on a branch of an old cherry tree and made all kinds of noise. I figured it was going to be their maiden flight. The parents encouraged them to leave the branch by flying off and quickly returning. It wasn’t long and they were all airborne. By the way, do you know what a group of crows is called? It’s a murder. Yup, strange at it is, the group is a murder. How would anyone ever come up with that?

Remember last week I talked about the bird nests in my gas grill? Well, they finally moved out. The three starlings went with the flock, and the swallows have learned to catch the hatching flies from our pond. It’s time to move their condominium before they think it’s a permanent residence.

The red-tailed harks on the hill must have had a pair of chicks. Now we see four of them circling high overhead on the thermals.

It’s funny that when we mow, the swallows swoop in around us, catching the insects we disturb, but the hawks take advantage of our grass cutting as well. Several times as I mow out in the meadows, a hawk will sit in a nearby tree and wait. I’ve had them dive down and catch snakes and even baby rabbits. One day a hawk caught something just after I had passed. When I came around again, she didn’t even fly away. The beautiful creature opened her broad wings and covered her prey as I drove by.

It's a joy to just sit back and watch nature unfold around us. Yesterday, I turned to Pat and said, “I don’t think it can get any better than this.”

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