Admire, but not like

I sometimes get the comment that it must be boring, walking the same walk every day. Well, it would be, if that’s what I did. But the creek isn’t just one walk. The first thing is to decide whether I’ll go upstream or downstream. It’s usually downstream, so the next thing to look at is the tide: high or low? The tide can open up or cut off half a dozen walks. This morning I had intended heading down the eastern banking towards the TAFE but I got waylaid at the Styx.

The Styx at this junction is normally a slow but steady movement of water; not exactly babbling but not static either. The recent growth of the reeds and pondweed has slowed it even further, so I was surprised to see water fairly gushing into the main branch. So I changed my route and headed south to investigate.

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Turns out the source of all this gurgling water was the fat pipe that comes out of the fuel depot. What were they doing with all that water on a Sunday morning? Hmm.

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But that turned out not to be the story at all, as is so often the case. A dark shape out of the corner my … Old Man Crow, up to no good. I headed further south and watched him, swooping and flapping around the banking.

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Crows don’t waste any more energy than is necessary on anything. If they start circling and moving in like this you can bet it’s because there’s an easy picking to be had. I headed towards him; he turned one emotionless silver disc of an eye on me before retiring to the big gum tree where the grey falcons had their nest. He could wait.

Here’s what I found: a very late hatching of ducklings. Mum had brought them down the creek, maybe even their first visit out of the long grass and the lantana to get their flippery feet wet and to teach them all that important duck stuff.

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Problem is, when you get down the steep concrete banking it isn’t easy to get back up again. And what mum had found was that that the narrow break in the thick pondweed ends just upstream from the pipe. And Old Man Crow knew this, oh yes he did. That’s the scene I came upon: mum banked hard up against the choke in the stream with a batch of inexperienced ducklings and a crow who had all day to wait for breakfast.

A crow’s head and brain is about the same size as that as my chooks and yet it contains a depth of wiliness that a chook could only dream of. I’m not a fan of crows, but I do admire them.

I wonder how many ducklings there’ll be tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Admire, but not like

  1. Matthew Squair says:

    Nature, red of tooth and claw. In a similar vein the good wife found herself lost in the mountains of Nepal, so she decided to stop in a clearing and call out to see if her party would respond, as soon as she did a murder of crows came flapping down to perch in the trees , they were just…waiting.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Ugh! Which is the sound of me shuddering at the thought. They really are the most patient of creatures.

      As a kid in England I remember seeing jackdaws find a perch and go hungry for a few weeks in spring, simply watching all the smaller birds frantically making their nests and laying their eggs. Sure, those jackdaws were hungry for a while, but they new exactly where to go for dinner when the time was right …

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