Spring watch

Standing on Pope’s Island this afternoon, I saw both a few last winter residents and one of the first summer residents. A pair of Buffleheads, perhaps the last of the ducks who wintered on the harbor, swam and dove in the water around the city marina, not far from the first of the recreational boats that appeared in the slips this week. Further out in the middle of the harbor, a Cormorant, one of the first summer residents to arrive in the harbor, flapped heavily and rose from the water where it had been holding its wings up to dry.

Late last week, the harbor was still full of wintering waterfowl. On Thursday, when the temperatures went up into the seventies, I walked over to the boat landing in Fairhaven. There I stood and counted more than thirty Brant, two dozen Buffleheads, and perhaps a dozen Red-Breasted Mergansers; and all the while, a Mockingbird sang lustily from a nearby tree. The waterfowl must have taken that warm day as a warning call for spring migration, because since then I haven’t seen more than a dozen waterfowl on any one day; and today I only saw those two Bufflehead.