The next morning, there were four. I just about had a heart attack at first because I could only see one of them.
Ralph was a little touchier than usual (and that’s saying something). Part way through the day, the Goslings fed over by the far pond with the four adults grouped loosely around them. Two adults were up and aware at all times. So were the Hooded Crow and Raven. I looked down at my keyboard just as a huge kafuffle occurred. I pulled out my binoculars just in time to catch the last of the action. One of the predator birds had made a move on the Goslings. Ralph was right on top of it in a towering rage. Norton also reacted to the attack, but the poor guy was promptly set upon by Ralph just for being there. The Raven and Hooded Crow both disappeared into the trees and Ralph had no-one else to go after. Norton bore it well, I must say. He and Trixie moved a little further out, but stayed close by in case there was need.
A couple of days later, there were still four of them. They were a little bigger not all having to sit on a regular basis, anymore. Their legs were getting stronger, as was their endurance, so the little eating machines were moving more.
I watched them closely that day and their personalities were beginning to show. Every year, there’s always one I call ‘Dad’s Lieutenant’. He’s a little bigger and leads the way, goes off on his own for a little explore, but also, hangs out with Dad, learning. That day he appeared to come to the fore. Two of them always stick together. I think they will be Gemini 1 and Gemini 2. Then there’s the one that lags behind. There’s always one of these, as well. This one is a little smaller, not quite as strong yet, and is always the last one to move, often running on little legs to collapse near the group.
I have very much enjoyed keeping track of this family. I don’t know the little ones as well as I have others, but we decided to keep our distance this year. Still, I so look forward to watching them grow, watching teensy wings hardly inches long become powerful enough to lift their bodies, watching Ralph and Alice train them to fly, putting them through exercises to that end. Then, later in July, saying good-bye for the year as they finally take flight and spring free of life on the ponds.
And here are a couple of shots of the other life on our pond. You have to peer closely as some of them are hiding, but they are there. The duck population was pretty hard hit last year as well, so the parent ducks have been keeping the wee ones far from anything or anyone that might be a threat. They’ve become pretty clever at it.
And so, that’s it until next time. I’ve taken thousands of pictures these last few months and will upload and share as I work my way through them.