Nahant Marsh has been full of many wood ducks this season. All through the late spring and on into the summer, moms and their ducklings have been everywhere at the marsh. Although wood ducks are born every year here, this summer they’ve been especially abundant.
Each time I’ve visited I’ve noticed multiple wood duck moms out with their broods. Some are small and downy, others, longer out of the shell, are larger. All know just what to do, and busily pick morsels of food from the surface of the water as they paddle about.
Sometimes Mom follows watchfully along with them, other times she leads the way. Occasionally a dawdling duckling will run across the water to catch up when the distance gets a little too great for comfort. They are fun to watch, and it is a treat to have seen so many this summer.
Always the little ones grow with surprising speed, eating voraciously and becoming near adult sized in short order. This usually means the window of opportunity to see them while still small is short. But, this summer, additional groups of new hatchlings keep gliding into view.
The green and growing time is not only full of wood ducks. Hooded merganser moms are also out on the water, enjoying the abundance of summer with their little ones—and trying to avoid having the hatchlings eaten before they have a chance to grow.
The babies that have survived the bountiful and perilous time of high summer are no doubt quite large by now. I have been out wandering away from the marsh for a time. I don’t expect any more little ones to cross my path. It has been, and still is, a remarkable, beautiful summer at Nahant Marsh, and you never know what might wander into view.
Spring at Nahant Marsh has fully arrived, bringing new, fast growing green, budding trees, and the return all of the marsh’s resident birds. Nahant Marsh is good habitat where a pair of birds can find food, rest and nesting spots. Every season new wood ducks have been born here in this nature preserve in the city. This seasons babies ought to be here any day now.
That the wild creatures tolerate the surrounding city so well illustrates their resiliency. Every spring they come to spend another season at Nahant Marsh, and the wetland fills with birds. Perhaps the background hum and clang of the city really doesn’t matter when good food is on offer. The very water of the marsh is alive, and grows food for a great variety of life on up the food chain.
The air is alive, too. Insects hatching in the warming spring fill the air with translucent shimmers of light, and there to meet them are colorful birds in their best spring plumage.
The marsh is home to many more birds than I can see—they are small, quick and easily hidden in the quickly growing vegetation. Many of them are loudly singing, yet still are hard for me to spot. Even those that glow like jewels in the woods and meadows can often be heard easier than seen. The air is alive with the songs of many birds, woven with spring peepers and chorus frogs into spring concert music.
Spring is a good time to sit still and listen to the music of all those birds. The birds will forget about you to some extent if you remain still, increasing the chance that one might happen by on business of its own. Nahant Marsh is full of birds, all of them busy with spring activities. There is food to find, mates to court, nests to build and soon hatchlings to tend to.
Already there are goslings out on the water with their attentive parents. Babies grow with blinding speed every year, and this one is sure to be no different. Spring will be gone before you know it, so be sure to take a moment to sit and listen and watch.