Boating on the Pond

The word boating almost conjures up too grand a vision for our little pond and especially our little row boat, a small aluminum and wood vessel.  Green Heron Pond is considered a lake by our neighborhood but referring to it as a pond has a more intimate, cozy feel.  And it is a pond, possibly 2 acres and at its deepest (after the abundant rains this spring) probably 6 feet deep.  But to go for an evening row on the lake, when the sun is turning deep down in the Southwest, skies shifting from blue to pinkish orange, it is more than grand to row quietly around the pond.

Two evenings ago we went for really our maiden voyage of the season as the drought had left our little boat marooned at the pond’s North end amid a layer of decaying leaves and hardened soil. But with the rains the row boat has practically been bobbing up and down seemingly anxious to get out and lead the exploration!

Among the willows and cottonwoods transporting oars and binoculars we launch amid now wet, decaying and rather fragrant leaves to see the reveal of spring on the pond.  We row close to shore watching for Bull frogs and small water snakes. As we row closer to the willows at the pond’s Northeast end, where the too low Green Heron’s nest seemed unoccupied, my husband spies movement.  The sitting adult green heron moves soundlessly off the nest- disguising its whereabouts from any intruders and we quickly row away so not to disturb.  The nest, poised over the water, will provide an ideal view from our kitchen window (with the “long-eyes”) but undetectable from the surrounding shore.

We continue to row past old nesting sites and are made aware, very abruptly of intruding on a Belted Kingfisher fishing hidden among the willows.  His rattling call startles us a bit and we locate him quickly.  No rusty band on this guy but at his call another answers back, possibly Mrs Kingfisher.  They scold us as we keep rowing, circling the pond when my husband spies two bulging eyes staring blankly out of the waters edge among cat tails. After a cautious close look we move on only to see a bigger Bull frog on the other end of the cat tails.  Out of the water and maybe 6 inches in length, he is big, leathery blackish-green…what a view!  We move ahead thinking to go in as dusk is veiling the views when the frog goes after something in and around the water…he jumps, he leaps, he plunges, settles back to shore…a frog silhouette in fading light dining amongst the cat tails.  We row to our little boat area listening to frog songs and pick our way up to the house in faded light.  Grand, yes it is.

life by the pond

I love life by the pond as something interesting, fascinating or insightful will happen as you are watching.  And the water source draws in all kinds of wildlife for viewing.  Today the pond is full up with all the rain we have been having.  Now the Momma Mallard and her ducklings are not struggling up the rocks to shore for a little snack,  instead they are floating up to the grassy shoreline- like pulling into the local drive in, ordering and eating their meal; a little scratch put out, fresh moist green grass and seedlings.  Oh and can I forget cottonwood seedlings stringing “cotton” across yard and pond (and my air conditioner); watching as the ducklings and their elders dip their heads to pick up the tiny bits of white fuzz off the water.

Speaking of water level, the eponymous Greenback Herons arrived a few weeks ago to a drought-y pond area, choosing a low willow branch as a potential nesting site…it is now hovering at waters edge and they are checking out alternative “highrise” sites.

What a privilege and pleasure to observe these waterfowl; the little ducklings practically growing before my eyes,  their mother’s careful watch over them.  The herons soon to find a nesting site and hatch their young- I will look forward to seeing the little herons grasp branch to branch to move about as they build strength for fishing and flight.

I will keep you posted on Green Heron Pond, come spend a few moments with me on the pond.