The day started out with me and Dude and Frisco chasing ‘resident, over-fed Canada geese’ off our pond where the small amount of water flowing in, and lots of goose excrement piling up on the shore and in the water is not to our liking.
Folks across the way in Major’s Choice are feeding these ‘pets’ and causing them to flock to nearby open water and foul (no pun intended) the ponds and shorelines. If they just stayed at the big sediment pond at Major’s Choice it would be fine.
We have no problem here at Rustica with migrants, they fly in during the fall and winter by the hundreds, feeding on the remnants of John Magness’ soybeans or field corn depending on the year. Migrants are just that, they migrate, feeding along the way and then move on.
It’s these resident ‘hogs’ that we discourage from ruining our pond. Frisco and Dude break from the house, running full tilt towards the geese and chase them to flight and farewell for another day. By dawn the next day, usually the geese are back. Some days they skip returning.
Down near the pond in the aftermath of the geese leaving I toss in some day-old bagels for the bass, blue gills and painted turtles. I looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of a marsh-hawk gliding in lazy passes over the uncut soybean fields. A neat bird, and more readily available this time of year.
The unmistakeable ‘marshmallow white spot’ on the tail and pointy wings are the field marks most recognizable for me.
Trudging back up to the house, it’s nearly 10 a.m. as I check the lone sunflower feeder and sweep out the garage from all the leaves that funnel their way along the wind patch around the north end of the house. Low and behold under the feeder is a rufous-sided towhee, scratching and nibbling seeds. Rufous sides, white belly and long, rounded tail with white spots make this songbird a truly original visitor.
Two for two so far today, the hawk and the towhee, and I begin to accept this fine, sunny day as one that’s gonna be fun and full of surprises.
It was a day for travel to the north, and Pylesville, across to Delta and a visit with Kenkaid then across to Stewarts Farm and southward to Broad Creek. Coming out of the creek bridge and up the hill there is a small box turtle just beginning to cross the highway, from west to east side. I easily can drive without hitting him, and there are two cars stretched out behind me, as I think of slowing, turning around and picking the turtle up before it’s hit.
But there are times when such a maneuver is not possible or plausible and this was one of them. Another half mile southward and I’m beginning to have second thoughts about turning around and moving the turtle to the east side of the road.
But I can’t, just can’t because I’m thinking up this way, most folks would try to avoid a box turtle crossing the road if they could. I just have to trust human nature and trust myself in thinking other folks think like I do when it comes to a box turtle in the road.
It’s sunny, temps are in the mid 70’s, the pavement is warm by noon which is when I was passing through. At the intersection I again have this inclination to turn around and go back, at least three miles by my judgement. O.K. What if I do, and the turtle is squashed, that will make my day worse for certain.
What if I go back and the turtle is gone? Say, he made it across. What business is it of mine to interfere with a creature who’s made it this far without any help from me? Questions and pondering. Signs and wonders.
This is a lesson in human-nature and trusting our fellow man to do the right thing when it comes to a box turtle crossing the road. I’ve nearly been killed dozens of times doing just what I wanted to do this day. I’ve moved many turtles to the side of the road they are headed for, and I’ve seen lots of squashed turtles that didn’t make it long before I passed by.
The good omens of the marsh hawk and towhee hold me steady, and my faith in the good nature of us all prevails and I feel secure that the box turtle made it’s way to the other side.
Sometimes we just have to trust our judgement, and trust the nature of things we are only a small part of.