December 30, 2013

It is so cold that even in late morning ice still edges The Stockpond, where a Black Phoebe and a Yellow-rumped Warbler are duking it out over something in the overhanging mesquite branches. The temperature in that last dark hour before dawn here likely had dropped to about 15 degrees.

Yet another large bird has been brought low, this one a now torn-apart Mallard whose remains I find in their wreckage field stretching out from the pool at The Cienega. Well, not remains really–whatever it was that got it took away completely the bone, flesh, beak and quack, and left only lovely feathers. Some are small and bottle green, and there are larger ones of iridescent aquamarine, each tipped with a round white spot which when arranged together across a line must have formed the blue speculum with its white bar. Peregrine on the lurk? Woe to the ducks! (I’ve witnessed in a past year one of those falcons’ most accomplished hunting feats when it chose a female Baldpate from the buffet at The Stockpond, then on a patch of bare ground in #2 Pasture dined in blood and drifting duck feathers only about a hundred feet from the windshield of the truck. Oh the luck of seeing that!) It’s been over a month since I’ve seen a Peregrine, though.