Monday, January 24, 2011

Wild Wildlife: In Which Maryland is Revealed to Be Cold, and Striking, and Full of Ducks

Because our winter break—though lovely in that it allowed us to visit with friends and family—was short on actual vacationing, we took a long-weekend jaunt to Tilghman Island, MD. We got a two-nights-for-one deal on a cabin at a B&B and loaded the car up with good food, books, and cameras, with the intention of holing up somewhere with a good view, only emerging to take the occasional walk or, in my case, to rush outdoors at the sight of an interesting bird.

Things only sort of worked out as planned... By the time we left DC for Maryland, Annie had developed a bad cold, making holing up more of a necessity than a luxury. And we’d managed to choose the coldest weekend of the winter—at least in this area of Maryland—so we woke after our first night to discover that our pipes had frozen. Fortunately, as Annie pointed out, this was vacation, not the real world, so we simply switched cabins and put up with the quiet but insistent noise of faucets left dripping so as to ensure that these pipes didn’t share in the fate of those in our previous cabin.

[yes, the rocks really are
coated in ice]

No question that we could have done without the rhinovirus, the pipes, and the wind-chill, but the island—which also contains a bird sanctuary—was still quite beautiful; we were at its point, surrounded by water, and we could look out the windows and see rafts of diving ducks floating sedately twenty feet away from us.

Of course, as I discovered during one of my walks, if you try to approach them when not concealed behind windows, the ducks are not nearly as sedate:

It was very guilt-inducing to feel I was the Router of Ducks; on the other hand, they came back as soon as I moved away, so I obviously didn’t scare them too permanently. And they have plenty of more serious concerns than me: the sanctuary is the home of a pair of bald eagles, a few red foxes, and any number of red-tailed hawks, all of which have designs on the ducks; one of the proprietors of the B&B told us that the grounds are always littered with “parts” left over from unlucky prey.

Even for someone less delighted by waterfowl than I, the island was pretty spectacular, since the vast spread of Chesapeake Bay provided a magnificent view in itself.

[view from the point]

[spied on the dock]

It also acted as an impressionistic mirror for the light, from the down-colored clouds of midday to the crystalline layers of orange and blue at sunset and sunrise to the wobbling, waning moon that rose over the water, huge and orange like an enormous segment of tangerine.

Yes, I’d have to say that, in spite of our unexpected tribulations, the vacation was…just ducky.

[a bufflehead (no, really)]

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

I'm not a bird enthusiast but specially appreciate your photo of the ducks rising. Given the predators, it would probably have been more worrying if they hadn't been alert enough to have taken off at your friendly approach.


Anca said...

That dawn photo is magnificent. The duck remains? "red in tooth and claw," unlike our traces, which are dark, greasy, and ashen.

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