In The Wind

A song sparrow near Saylorville Lake in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018.

“Spring will be sweeter for the wait,” he sang.

The song sparrow strained to make his voice heard over the roar of the wind. With a reassuring glance, he flew to the ground to search for seeds.

The morning began at dawn further north on the bank of Saylorville Lake. The sky was heavily overcast. I was looking for a way to be closer to a group of migrating ducks swimming in the lake. I heard an unexpected and unfamiliar sound. There were two or three river otters in the lake! They climbed over one another while watching me. Then, they slipped away quickly swimming south.

Even though the migrating ducks were at least a quarter of a mile away, they flew off as I walked in their direction along the edge of the lake.

Before leaving the park, I checked the pond in the Bison and Elk Enclosure. Two male northern shoveler ducks fed in the pond. They swam in circles stirring up the food particles in the water and then sifting them in their bills. A pair of bufflehead ducks dove for their food. Numerous Canadian geese were in the pond and on the grass.

Shortly after I arrived, a male and a female northern shoveler duck flew in. A ruckus ensued when one of the original male ducks approached the new pair with his head bobbing. The interloper male and the female circled one another squawking and flapping their wings. The partner of the female left the fray and floated by the other original male duck who continued to feed throughout the conflict.

Soon, the interloper male made peace with his rejection and all four of the ducks turned their attention to feeding. During the northern shoveler duck confrontation, the Canadian geese had their own noisy dispute. You can hear their protests in the background of the first video.

Northern cardinals sang in the woods across the road.

Northern cardinals singing in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018. Other birds can be heard singing and calling in the background.

River otters in Saylorville Lake in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018.

Migrating ducks at dawn in Saylorville Lake, Iowa, April 5, 2018.

Two male northern shoveler ducks feeding in a pond in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018.

Two male northern shoveler ducks feeding in a pond in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018. When a male and a female northern shoveler duck flew in, a ruckus ensued as one of the original males tried to disrupt the new pair. There were many Canadian Geese in or near the pond and they were engaged in disputes of their own. The calls of the Canadian geese can be heard in the background.

A pair of northern shoveler ducks feeding in a pond in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018. A pair of bufflehead ducks dove nearby.

Two male northern shoveler ducks feeding in a pond in Jester Park, Iowa, April 5, 2018.

Take care and thanks for reading.



About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
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16 Responses to In The Wind

  1. Wonderful post. I do love the otter!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Belinda 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed the post. 🙂 It was a treat to see the otters! I haven’t see one in the wild before. It is a big lake and the chance of an encounter is small. If they had been silent, I might have missed seeing them because I had my attention focused on the ducks in the water and the sky. Another reminder to pay attention! 🙂

      • I’ve never seen one myself. This one posed perfectly!

        • Sarah says:

          It was a unique event and one to remember! His curiosity made him linger just long enough for a photo to be taken. 🙂 I imagine they were as surprised to see me as I was to see them. It has been cold enough that few people have been at the park so far this year. It was in a spot that is part of the floodplain when the water is high enough. I was trying to find a way to get closer to where the migrating ducks were collected by one of the inlet which exists because the water is low. Often in the spring, the water level rises due to snow melt up North or the spring rains. I don’t know if there has been enough snow this year to cause the water level to rise. The spring rains are on their way. By then, the migrating ducks will be up by you or further north. 🙂

        • zirah1 says:

          Yes, I was thinking the same thing as far as the pose.

  2. zirah1 says:

    Wow, what an amazing, chock-full outing! And river otters! How does it get any better than that? And I loved the way you gave a “blow by blow” account of the duck “love triangle.” I’ve had something similar happening here w/ several of the birds AND rabbits. The other day I posted on Facebook about having a “rabbit rodeo” going on in the back yard….w/ 2, then 3, then 4 rabbits all chasing each other around. I think it was 1 female and the rest males trying to court her, but running her ragged in the meantime. So much going on this time of year!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Zirah 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy that you had fun hearing about the adventure. 🙂 I was amazed to see the otters. It is unlikely to happened again and I am thankful one of them made a sound to alert me to their presence. It was a classic case of looking off to the distance (at the ducks) when the action was taking place nearly at my feet. 🙂 I wonder if the one who stopped and watched me was a young one not used to seeing people. I think there were three of them even though in the photographs I saw only two faces. It was dawn on a heavily overcast morning and hard to see exactly what was going on. There was quite a bit of movement in the water. They swim very fast!

      It usually happens that I go out to the park with one idea and end up seeing something entirely different. The motivation was the migrating ducks. I haven’t been to the park since last Friday because of the weather. I will likely go tomorrow morning. I think they will still be coming through. I haven’t found a spot yet where I can get close to the ones in the lake. I have seen a few in the ponds. They mostly keep too far away for photos. The northern shovelers, though, didn’t move to the far side of the pond or fly away. They were hanging out in the middle just close enough for my camera. I was content to take photographs and videos of the two males and then all of the sudden the pair arrived and chaos broke out. 🙂 The Canadian geese were coming and going and making lots of noise in the process so it was a hot spot of activity for a little while. Then, it settled down and I could hear the cardinals in the woods behind me.

      It is funny about the rabbits in your yard. 🙂 Thank you for telling the story! The animals know that spring is here even if the plant kingdom is slow to wake up due to the cold weather.

      • zirah1 says:

        Yes, so interesting when we have a plan for one thing and then something unexpected comes on the scene……often even better than what we had in mind. I hope you are able to see the otters again…..maybe now that you know of their presence it might be easier to detect them. We are still have cool temps and high winds, but some snow forecast for a few days ago never materialized, so I think I’m safe (fingers and toes crossed) in saying that at least the snow is behind us until next fall.

        • Sarah says:

          I will be scanning the lake for the otters now that I know they are there somewhere. 🙂 There is snow in the forecast for here this weekend, but the forecast changes often so it might disappear before the day arrives. Next time I go to the park, I will check the woods for signs of the wildflowers. I didn’t see any last week. Pretty soon there will be lots to see. 🙂 Once they get started the flowers grow quickly and the leaves come out on the trees. I am curious to see if I can observe any new birds this year. There are small birds that live here in the summer and travel through in the spring that I haven’t seen yet.

  3. Such a lovely and interesting read, Sarah. Your photos are all so beautiful and great captures! Thanks for all this sharing… have a wonderful Spring. 😃 ⚘ ♥️

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Iris 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed seeing the early morning nature activities. 🙂 There was a lot going on and it is going to be busier once it warms up a bit. I am looking forward to seeing the spring wildflowers and the birds. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful Spring as well! 🙂 ❤

  4. Shady_Grady says:

    The otter wants to know who you are and what are you doing?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! Yes. I know. 🙂 I was in their space early in the morning exactly where they didn’t expect a human to be! It was a surprising and funny moment. 🙂 They are excellent swimmers. When they decided to depart, they did it gracefully, quickly, and quietly. I would love to watch them again if I knew where to find them. They are shy, though, and the likelihood of seeing them again is small.

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