THE END OF THE WAR ON THE POND – Marilyn Armstrong

And when the nest-building and love-making are done, as the long spring afternoon stretches ahead, Mr. Mute-Swan stretches his wings and heads over to the other side of the pond to harass the demon Geese who stole his nest. No matter that he has built a new nest and it is a fine nest.


“Never forgive, never forget” is his motto. He will get the geese out of the pond. There is no forgiveness between swans and geese. This appears to be a permanent grudge.

Casually paddling cross the pond towards the old homestead.

Casually paddling across the pond towards the old homestead.

“What ho! Incoming” cry Mr. and Mrs. Canada-Goose. “Prepare to repel Mute-Swan!”

Incoming, 12 o'clock!

Incoming!!

In the assault, notice that our swan does not actually attack the geese directly. Instead, he attacks their nest. There’s no physical contact between the warring birds. It’s a war of principle, not annihilation.

Attack!

Attack!

Perhaps that is one of the differences between “creatures” and “humans.” We actually kill each other for far less worthy reasons than having had our nest stolen. Mostly, animals don’t kill each other unless they are hungry. Or it’s mating season and there’s a lady creature to be won. Cherchez la femme, even when you are a bird.

A new nest

Full-on attack mode! Swan is much bigger, but the goose is strong.

The attack continues.

Confrontation!

Confrontation!

And again, from another angle … still, with no direct contact.

Another battle

Another battle!

The geese don’t look all that upset. Is the attack part of an ongoing ritual? All parties seems to know the rules of the game. They were probably born knowing.

Paddling like mad, the attack continues!

Paddling like mad, the attack continues!

“I think I hear my wife calling,” says Mr. Swan. He slowly circles the nesting geese one final time. “But I’ll be back. Don’t think this is over. It won’t be over until you are gone from this pond.”

I shall return!

I shall return!

And it the end, the Canada geese gave up and moved to a different part of the river. It’s hard to figure why they bother to fight since there is so much water around. There is more than enough room for both of them and all the other waterfowl, too.

Be at peace, larger feathered friends.

THE DAM AT THE POND

Dam at Whitins Pond

This is a dam that’s hard to find. You can hear it from the road, but you can’t see it without going around the big brick building that was formerly — you guessed it — a mill. A cotton mill, I believe.

A perfect water lily
A perfect water-lily

Funny to finally discover this dam after passing so near for more than a dozen years. You really can’t see it from the road, which is where we usually shoot from and I probably heard it, but didn’t pay attention. It’s an interesting dam, not like any of the other local dams.

It’s not very tall, perhaps 10 or 12 feet. Water doesn’t flow over the dam as much as it comes through holes in the dam, set at various heights in a long crescent.

The waters spits out and onto a plateau of flat rocks. I’m not sure what this design was intended to accomplish, but there must have been some special purpose in the design.

Close up at the dam

The old mill used to be an antique cooperative until last year. They recently converted it to an adult activity center. The senior center in Uxbridge is tiny, so this is definite upgrade. The building has been beautifully restored and its location, adjacent to the river and Whitins Pond … well, it couldn’t be lovelier.

 

GREEN LEAVES BY THE POND

While here, at home, the trees are bare, a couple of miles away the world is normal. It’s odd the way the gypsy moth invasion has affected the area.

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We are the worst hit. South Uxbridge, Douglas, North Smithfield — we all have bare oaks and maples. The gardens look ragged and nothing is blooming. Not a day lily to be seen, nor a rose on any bush.

In trying to find a positive side to this experience, the best anyone has come up with was my son who pointed out we won’t have a lot of leaves to rake up this fall.

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Definitely will be an easy cleanup of autumn leaves but it isn’t likely to be an epic autumn, either. At least not at home. But down the road a couple of miles …

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The trees are full and green around the pond. The swans are nesting peacefully.

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It was good to find the world had not ended everywhere … just at our house!

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Some of the pictures are Garry’s, the others are mine. Both of us wished we had brought either another camera or a long lens. The swans were there, but too far off to capture with the equipment we’d brought. Still, for all that, it was good to see green and growing trees.

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Tiny buds are appearing on our trees. If the caterpillars don’t get them, we’ll have leaves again. I hope.

SWANS AGAIN

Garry and I aren’t at our best. I’m coughing. He’s all stuffy. Neither of us can hear. The problem is worse for him since he has hearing problems anyway. A cold makes everything much worse.

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Even so, there didn’t seem any reason why we couldn’t take advantage of the lovely spring weather and take a few pictures. We had to stop at the grocery store anyhow …

Garry’s Gallery

The original destination was Manchaug. To check out the falls. As we were passing the river and Whitins Pond, I saw the flash of white and I knew the swans were back. I have not seen a single swan since 2014. I don’t know which hit them harder — the brutal winter or the drought which reduced the rivers and ponds to mud flats.

Marilyn’s Gallery

There’s water now. Not as much as there ought to be, but the waterways don’t recover from five years of drought in a season. There was also a lot of trash in the river.

People! Stop throwing garbage in your water supply. Are you stupid? If you pollute your water, you will have nothing to drink. This is a water shed.

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Garry took a few pictures. I took some more. The swans were not only obliging, they obviously expected a payoff for posing. Sadly, we were unprepared.

I must remember to bring a few treats for the birds. They expect them.

ODDER STILLS?

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 11

My leftover pictures are very much like all my pictures. I overshoot and take more frames than I can possibly use, so there are always spares.

There’s nothing wrong with them. if there was something wrong, I’d delete them … but these are merely not those I chose to (initially) process.

Sometimes, I feel guilty about them, as if they have been unfairly overlooked. Like maybe they feel hurt because I chose frame 25 while ignoring frame 27. Although I realize this is ridiculous, I do anthropomorphize everything. Flowers and photographs.


Camera conversations:

“Why have you been using the Q7 and not me?” screams an Olympus PM2.

“Shh! You’ll wake the big Panasonic!”

So, in the name of fairness and equality, here are some of the photographs which were, through no fault of their own, left behind.

NOVEMBER ON WHITINS POND

Whitins Pond November

Whitins Pond, November 2014

Just when I thought the glorious fall was over for good and all, we had yet one perfect afternoon in mid November. The pond is full again. The rains came and filled it.

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Houses on Whitins Pond, almost twilight

While the swans have been absent, mallards seem to be everywhere. Maybe they are taking advantage of the absence of the swans to take over that piece of pond. They were too far for me to photograph, but I could see them. It’s nice to see birds again.

Twilight on Whitins Pond in November

Twilight on Whitins Pond in November

SEVEN SWANS A’SWIMMING

I see wild animals frequently in my woods. Garry saw a family of deer yesterday out his window, but I missed them because I was too slow getting there. I had some exciting close encounters with the local bobcats which may have been responsible for my heart problems. Regardless, none of these encounters yielded photographs.

So, to meet this challenge, I must return to my faithful, dependable swans on Whitins Pond.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Nature Animals

NESTING

 

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I took this picture “blind” because I could not see the swan with my own eyes. The nest and swan were almost invisible behind the reeds on the far side of the pond. All I could see was a bit of white. But, I figured,”What else could it be but the other swan?” They are always in pairs, especially this time of year when they are breeding.

So using my super zoom, I aimed at the white thing and took a series of pictures. It was the nest. The camera has far better eyesight than I do.

SPRING ON THE POND

Welcomed by a singing bird. I think it’s an Eastern Kingbird. Can anyone confirm this or otherwise identify this guy? I managed to grab a pretty good shot of him before he flew away.

It was good to be back at the pond.

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It was our first trip to the pond in 2014. I was wondering how the swans fared through this terrible winter. I don’t have a complete answer, but there are swans on Whitins Pond. And they are nesting. We saw two swans today.

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One was sitting on the nest. The other came right up to us. I wished I’d remembered to bring some bread. He was clearly hoping for a handout!

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Hard winters — like this one that seems to have finally passed — take a toll on water fowl. The pond freezes for long periods of time and there is little or nothing to eat. The heavy snow makes it difficult to hide from the weather.

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I’m glad we still have some swans. A few of my pictures today and I’ll try to process some of Garry’s tomorrow.

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A FOWL TRIPTYCH – GEESE V SWANS ON WHITINS POND

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

In a nutshell, a three-picture story is a way to help you think about storytelling with images. To create a three-picture story, gather:

  • An establishing shot: a broad photo of your subject.
  • A relationship: two elements interacting with one another.
  • A detail: a close-up of one part of your subject.

– – – – –

Last April, the geese made a play for ownership of what has always been swan territory by stealing the nest from a pair of swans. Geese live all over the valley. This area is a watershed, crisscrossed with  rivers, streams, ponds and marsh — perfect nesting grounds for water fowl. From herons and egrets, to swans and all kinds of ducks, water birds nest and live in the Valley.

Whitins Pond has for as long as we've lived in the valley been "swan territory."

Whitins Pond has, for as long as we’ve lived in the valley, been “swan territory.”

Herons, swans and geese get along fine with ducks … but not with each other. Herons are secretive and nest far from other birds, but swans and geese are forever encroaching on each others’ territory. For whatever the reason, these two species are enemies, even though they share space with other water birds without problems.

By some quirk of fate, Garry and I were there with our cameras to witness the battle. Talk about serendipity!

War! Swans try to rout invading geese!

War! Swans try to rout invading geese!

Despite a temporary setback, there’s a happy ending. Six young swans cruise with mama on Whitins Pond. The geese are not in evidence, but I’m sure they’ll try again. They are persistent.

It’s a big pond. They could just share, but apparently, they don’t want to. You’d have to ask them why not.

All's well that ends well. Mother and "teenage" swans cruise the pond. The nest was rebuilt and the swans are still the monarchs of their piece of the pond. It's a big pond, room for all.

All’s well that ends well. A new nest was built and another generation of young swans live on the pond.

Other Entries:

SEASONS OF SWANS – 2012 to 2013

This time of year, the swans are  huddled deep in leaves to keep warm. Today, it’s raining, washing away the snow cover and the bitter cold will not return for at least a few days. It will give the swans a breather. I hope they are able to survive this terrible cold we’ve been having. This is a year and a half of the swans on Whitins Pond.