Parable of the Migratory Birds

Fall is migration season. The Pond is a stopover for avian migrants enroute to coastal NW United States, or further south to the Gulf Coast and even Mexico. This year, for some reasons, the traffic at the Pond and the adjacent lake is particularly busy, all to a birder’s delight.

October came in like a lion and out like a lamb. We had heavy snow by the middle of the month when the leaves had not all fallen off from the trees and the grass was still green. The lowest temperature reached was -18°C, that, my friend to the south, is 1°F. The water at the Pond was frozen by the third week. But after that premature winter, we were blessed with warmer days towards the end of the month, and even breaking a one day record high on Nov. 2, reaching 23°C, or 73°F.

But it’s not the temperature that interests me. What I find amazing is the variety of waterfowl converging here on their way to the south and the way they come together.

Here are some photos in the past couple of weeks. Mallards, Mergansers, and Ring-billed Gulls side by side. I think I heard Lady Merganser say: so what if my Lucille Ball hairstyle or its colour is different from yours, just let me be and swim to my heart’s delight. Whether you dip or dive for your food, these diverse avian species know how to get along and enjoy the warm sun, fresh air, and clear water:

What does it matter that a female Goldeneye is leading a flock of Buffleheads:

From the front of the line: Female Goldeneye, Male Buffleheads (wearing white hoodies), followed by two Female Buffleheads (white patch on cheek).

At a lake nearby, more migrants converged. It was a pool party of diversity: Canada Geese, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Coots, Gulls… those were just the ones I could see from afar. Only when there’s peaceful coexistence can they conserve energy for the long haul, and leisurely soak up the sun, preen their plumage, do yoga stretch, and of course, fuel up on nature’s buffet.

Thanks to other birders alerting me, that’s the first time I saw Swans here. From a far distance, I sighted several of them on the half frozen lake (or, half melting lake):

I can’t decide even after researching online whether they were Trumpeters or Tundra Swans as I was unable to see their bills from so far away, not even from the enlarged photo later. The two on the right in the picture above are juveniles as they’re greyish in colour. The one in the middle in the foreground standing on one leg is a Canada goose. Note the difference in size.

That day, I had my fill of avian sightings, albeit just watching from the shore far from the activity. The swans stood out in their sheer physical impression among all the ducks and geese, yet they were gentle and not bullies.

Maybe the migratory birds know that they’re only here temporarily, as they’re all in transit. As time is short and their presence ephemeral, might as well be at peace with each other and indulge in what they are given: Nature’s bounty, and enjoy their fill of common grace.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

24 thoughts on “Parable of the Migratory Birds”

  1. Now that’s a crowd! Mergansers are my favorites — I don’t see them often and it’s wonderful to see them here — and also all hanging together. The weather looks wonderful — perfect for a day of photography. What a sight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now the lake is frozen again. Those few days of warm temp. opened up the window of opportunity for me to capture the waterfowls in picture. As they were so transient… I went back a couple of days later the swans were gone.


  2. Hey we have been asked about our vision for Eastbourne regarding a big piece of marshland, we are lucky to have some interest from some who specialises in sympathetic developments of the natural world, and I had your bird photos in mind when I took part in a discussion about how I would like to see it developed into a place birds are able to thrive. Your images are inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to hear Ripple has some remote influence on a piece of marshland in Eastbourne! 🙂 Now, is that close by Brighton? I haven’t been to those areas. And O, how I wish we can travel again freely… England and Europe will be my next destination! Hope you’re keeping well and staying safe in this unprecedented time.


  3. I stopped by one of our refuges on Sunday, and found the same sort of mixed group as you’ve shown here — in the sense of being mixed. We don’t get the mergansers, buffleheads, and goldeneyes very often. They’re around, but rare to see. On the other hand, I found the largest group of roseate spoonbills I’ve ever seen, and they were glorious. They were too far away for my lens, but no matter. The pink feathers still were pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never seen a spoonbill, which is only reasonable as I just found out from their range map that they can only be found in the gulf coast and the Mexican coast. All those pink feathers, must have been a pretty sight!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. There are more colorful birds in the south than what we have here, even in the east than here. Would love to see some pics from you! And what about flamingos, do you have them?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m laughing. They aren’t native, but a pair escaped from a zoo in Kansas (?) and made its way down here. A game warden got a photo of it on the mid-coast a couple of years ago. It hangs around with native herons and such and apparently has done very well!


  4. Swans??!!! Wow!
    Amazing. I wish Americans would come together and “blend” with one another now (after the election) in a form of kindness, without so much fear-based division. Let’s try to heal. Diversity doesn’t have to mean division. It’s my hope, anyway.
    I hope the media can assist by not fanning the flames of “change being bad” but realizing and supporting that change is part of the nature of things.


    1. Well said. Indeed, there’s much to be learned from Nature and the birds. We as neighbours to your north wait with bated breath of a peaceful restoration within your own border, so we can enjoy peaceful co-existence as friendly neighbours. As for the swans, I’ve more photos coming up. Birding at the Pond, the best respite away from human conflicts. 🙂


  5. What a lovely group of migratory birds – eye candy for your camera for sure. My late husband love birds, we have so many books on ducks, geese and such. His favorites were the mallards and mergansers I think. Me, I like the “canard a l’orange” like Julia Child used to cook – I know that is wicked to say, but I also like them alive… I actually saw some a couple of days ago in the park close to my house in Nashville. Love your pictures.


    1. Haha! I love canard a l’orange too, albeit we’re more likely to have the Peking version more than the French one. 🙂 Glad you like the pics. In this extraordinary time, there’s nothing much to do other than grocery shopping and birding.


  6. I wrote my p.s. on one of your older posts, so I’m copying it here –
    PS. I forgot to tell you. I was so stressed to have to drive twice from Nashville to Atlanta to vote (1000 miles) because I never received my absentee ballot. I think I commented about it on a blog and a lady wrote me from your state of Alberta offering to be my “Canadian emotional support person” and I certainly agreed. It was helpful to get emails from her because since last March I actually have hardly spoken to anyone.


    1. No worries. I got them both. Thanks so much for stopping by the Pond, VB. Always appreciate your visit. And, count me in as another neighbourly support. Anytime you want to chat, feel free to stop by the Pond so we can have our chat over the fence here. All virtual, but hey, without the chance of actual meeting, we have to make do with whatever we have, and in whichever way available to us. Hang in there, VB, and take good care of yourself! Stay safe!


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