The Poets’ Birds: Dabblers

Whether Kenneth Grahame meant The Wind in the Willows to be for children or adults has been debated, but the timeless tale of animal friends and their adventures along the Thames, in the Wild Wood, or on the Open Road has enchanted readers since the book’s publication in 1908.

I missed meeting the main characters — Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Mr. Toad of Toad Hall — as a child, but once I began sailing, I discovered one quotation from the book appearing on nearly every boat: embroidered on salon pillows, hanging on bulkheads, incised over companionways, or silk-screened onto tee-shirts. Taken from the first chapter of the book, the saying’s appeal to sailors seemed universal:

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Eventually I read on, and found equally memorable passages to enjoy. After being introduced to the entertaining dabbling ducks at various refuge ponds — the mallards, northern shovelers, teals, and pintails that tip tail as they forage for food — the sight of their antics evoked one of the book’s most charming exchanges, between Ratty and Mole.

“Ratty,” said the Mole suddenly, one bright summer morning, “if you please, I want to ask you a favour.”
The Rat was sitting on the river bank, singing a little song. He had just composed it himself, so he was very taken up with it, and would not pay proper attention to Mole or anything else.
Since early morning he had been swimming in the river, in company with his friends the ducks. And when the ducks stood on their heads suddenly, as ducks will, he would dive down and tickle their necks, just under where their chins would be if ducks had chins, till they were forced to come to the surface again in a hurry, spluttering and angry and shaking their feathers at him, for it is impossible to say quite all you feel when your head is under water.
At last they implored him to go away and attend to his own affairs and leave them to mind theirs. So the Rat went away, and sat on the river bank in the sun, and made up a song about them, which he called “The Ducks’ Ditty”:
All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks’ tails, drakes’ tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roaches swim–
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call–
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!
“I don’t know that I think so very much of that little song, Rat,'” observed the Mole cautiously. He was no poet himself and didn’t care who knew it, and he had a candid nature.
“Nor don’t the ducks neither,'” replied the Rat cheerfully. “They say, ‘Why can’t fellows be allowed to do what they like when they like and as they like, instead of other fellows sitting on banks and watching them all the time and making remarks and poetry and things about them? What nonsense it all is!’ That’s what the ducks say.”

However ambivalent the ducks may be about Ratty’s little song, for those of us who enjoy dabbling in poetry — or anything else — the ducks’ ditty is both amusing and instructive: a worthy combination. I’m glad Grahame recorded it.


Comments always are welcome.



122 thoughts on “The Poets’ Birds: Dabblers

  1. I will never, ever see ducks foraging for food again without thinking of this line: “Ducks are a-dabbling, Up tails all!” Makes me smile. Thank you for that.

    1. Their feeding behavior is such fun to watch, and the little ditty captures the fun perfectly. As you point out, the line’s memorable and smile-producing, both. Given how deeply you’ve been diving into all your ‘stuff,’ it might even apply to you.

  2. I think that “Wind in the Willows” proves the point that good literature is good literature, whether intended for children or not.

    1. Exactly so. Good literature endures, too. The fact that a book over a century old still is read and enjoyed is especially nice in a society that thinks ‘history’ is anything that happened before last Wednesday.

  3. I have read this book both as a child and as an adult. The wholesome and adventurous theme appeals to children, but there is a deeper story flowing beneath the surface. Adults find the hidden meanings and time for reflection to be meaningful to them.

    1. That’s one reason I have certain books that I read and re-read on a regular basis. The books may not change, but I do, and as a result my understanding and appreciation change. Besides — even adults can profit from setting aside the weighty matters of life from time to time, and just enjoy a good tale.

    1. Suddenly right back in class with our Grade Eight teacher (who was also the Principal!) reading bits and pieces to us from the front of the room… Not sure how long it had been since I’d been read aloud to, but it was obvious he was enjoying himself immensely!: )

      1. My fourth grade teacher read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us every afternoon. I don’t know if we made it through the whole series, but it was a wonderful addition to the school day. Even the boys would settle down and listen. I suppose the fact that so many were farm kids helped them identify with the stories.

    1. As I mentioned to Deb up above, the reading is easy. The link in the first sentence is to an online version of the book, with clickable links for each separate chapter. With The Wind in the Willows, a chapter a day keeps the gloomies away.

      The question is, in the midst of all their confusion, did the ducks ever get some relief?

  4. “Up tails all!” What a perfect description of people gardening, ha! I think I must have read this to Domer when he was little, and I remember he enjoyed it lots. “Messing about in boats” seems a lovely way to spend one’s time, Linda — especially if one can make a living doing so. Personally, I prefer being on terra firma, but that’s just me. Being near water would be ideal.

    1. Now I’ve got that image in my mind, and you’re exactly right. There are a lot of human activities that involved ‘upped tails,’ and gardening certainly is one:

      All along the garden rows,
      Through the corn so tall,
      gardeners are a-dabbling,
      Up tails all!

      As for messing about in boats, that covers a lot of territory. Much of the ‘messing’ people do takes place on land, as they upgrade and repair their boats, or just hang out on them. In truth, my work’s nothing more than messing about with boats!

  5. ‘Up tail’ ducks never cease to amuse me Linda. I can always spare a moment, or several, to watch their antics and wish them luck in their endless search for goodies. Now, tickling one on the chin, there’s a task worthy of Ratty! –Curt

    1. Our marina mallards may have grown lazy. They’ve learned that they can nosh along the bulkheads, floating docks, and waterlines of boats that don’t move for the algae that grows in such places. No tail-tipping for them.

      On the other hand, they may just be smart. There are groups of migrating mallards who show up in the same places every year, and I always look forward to their return. Interbreeding has given some of them distinctive markings, especially if they’ve been hanging around with the Muscovies.

      1. I think birds are very much creatures of opportunity. The turkeys and I are now having a battle over seeds I have planted in the area that was torn up for the log landing. I’ve now applied a spray that keeps deer and rabbits away from plants with the hopes that will work on the turkeys. It is supposed to smell like coyote urine. I figure turkeys don’t like coyotes either judging from the turkey feathers I find on our property whenever a coyote passes through. :) –Curt

    1. The link in my very first sentence takes you to an online copy of the book, with clickable links for each chapter. No need for an intrepid traveler to find a library! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, too. It’s been fun collecting some images of the dabblers, and I was especially pleased to get a male and female northern shoveler feeding together.

    1. Thanks, John. I suspect these ducks provide the same sort of amusement your girls do: most of the time we don’t know why we laugh so heartily, but we do. Then, the world looks better again.

  6. When I was about seven, my family was living in Chicago. My parents decided we needed a place to escape to, so they bought a little camp on a lake in northern Wisconsin. I promptly dubbed it Toad Hall and made a sign to put on a tree by the driveway. There are probably Toad Halls all over the world, thanks to that wonderful book.

    1. What fun that must have been. We never had a place like that, but there were plenty of vacations in northern Minnesota, and it was wonderful. You had Toad Hall — I had Leech Lake.

      As for those Toad Halls all over the world, GP just proved your point in the comment he made just after you. He used to work for a woman who owned a bar called Toad Hall. That’s as good as the restaurant I used to frequent called The Hobbit Hole.

  7. I once worked for a woman who named one of her bars, “Toad Hall”. It had a great mural along the longest wall. We had many a good night in the old place!!

    1. Clearly, the tradition continues. Here’s the page of a Toad Hall Bar in San Francisco. When I looked at their page, I saw something I’ve never seen on a bar’s website before: a note that for lost or found items, patrons should come to the bar during business hours and ask personnel for assistance. I’m still thinking about that — apparently its customers also have many a good night in the place.

  8. Nice duck butts. I remember that we had a copy of The Wind in the Willows, but I don’t remember being taken with it. I might have read it. I could tell you all about Pooh Bear, but not a thing about Mr. Toad. Kind of funny in retrospect to think about which childhood stories stuck, and which ones floated away.

    1. And I’m just the opposite. I can’t tell you much about Pooh Bear at all, except that he had a thing for honey. It is funny which of those early stories ‘stick.’ For me, it was Heidi. I loved that story: so much so that I insisted on drinking my milk from a bowl for several months, like Heidi did up on the mountain. Whenever I hear the wind in pine trees, I think of that book again.

    1. It’s always great to see happy, healthy creatures out living their lives in good conditions – exactly the reason you and your mates work so hard with the ones who come to you. I thought of you yesterday when I was startled by a peacock roaming alongside the road. That made me smile, too.

  9. Well, that was fun! And your photos are marvelous; the water in the middle one is inviting me in! Interesting, too, that I just thought about The Wind in the Willows last week for some reason. It was one of those books that my literary mother loved but that I only tolerated as a kid. Only when I read it later did I really appreciate it.

    1. I wished all of the photos had that pretty blue water as a background, but when it comes to nature, we take what we can get. No matter — typical Texas water with ducks is better than glorious Texas water without them.

      Funny, how even the books we’ve nearly forgotten can come springing back to life. Sometimes, we wait even to discover books. I was just old enough to miss the Dr. Seuss books until I was an adult. Maurice Sendak, too. I was nearly out of high school before he published his first book. Hard as it is to believe, I didn’t learn about him until about a decade ago.

  10. One of my favourite books. Not in childhood, but as an adult, I would read it over and over again in the 10 years or so I worked as a live-in children’s Nanny in my 30s. There’s just something totally alluring about ducks in a pond and no matter what our age, one can’t help but be drawn to those tails in the air, asking us to wonder what they are eating and how long they can hold their breath.

    1. It’s true about the appeal of ducks in a pond. Even the domestic varieties can be fun to watch, especially if there are children around, but the dabblers are among my favorites. I suspect all of us have imagined our own stories about the lives they lead, and that may help to explain the popularity of the book. On the other hand, there are times when literature can help us see nature in a new way, and Wind in the Willows certainly does that.

  11. Nice shots of the dabbling ducks. I am not sure but I’m guessing those are mallards but I just might be way off on my observation since I haven’t looked at a mallard or any other duck in a very long time. The title, “The Wind in the Willows” has a marvelous lyrical ring- not sure why the those words sound simply wonderful to me since I have not even read the book. It won’t be long before the northern ducks wend their way south and settle in for the winter. I think the migratory ducks are beautiful and I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite duck.

    1. The mallard population in my marina is increasing daily. Where they go during the summer, I don’t know, but every autumn they’re back, just cruising around. Other birds that usually are here by now, like the teal, are in shorter supply. I expect the people who say it’s weather-related are right, but our first ‘cold’ front is coming next week, and they may well ride in on those winds.

      I know the ducks in the first photo are a male and female Northern Shoveler, and I suspect the others are, too. I don’t think the tail feathers on a mallard cross like that, but I need to be more observant and see if that’s so.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. If I had looked closely I might have noted that the ducks were shovelers, I love the shovelers and the Redhead ducks- well just about all birds- really.

        I think if you look again the crossed feathers are not tail feathers but the wings of those birds which extend over the back and to toward the rear of those birds.

        It must be exciting to see all the fall migrants return each year and to be able to observe so many birds up close.

        1. You’re right about those crossed feathers. Thanks for pointing that out. When I took a look at some photos of “upright” birds, it was more obvious.

  12. There’s a big pond down river from here caused by the backup from a dam, and a part of it is called “Goose Landing”. I enjoy visiting there when the Canada Geese are in because they show the “bottom’s up” behavior by the dozens.

    1. I had no idea that geese would tip tail, too. That must be quite a sight, especially when a whole group is involved. Of course, when I see snow or Canadian geese, they’re usually feeding in a harvested field, or off in the distance in sheet water, so there’s no opportunity for them to go bottoms up. Now I’m curious; it may be that there are places in the state where they gather in deeper ponds. I’ll have to find out, as I’d love to see that.

  13. These are so funny, thanks for sharing such humorous creatures and Kenneth Grahame’s beautiful story to bring humor and beauty using creation’s common day critters.

    1. Apart from the fact that his animals are cute and approachable by nature, Grahame did a wonderful job of giving each of them a distinct personality. It makes them all the more enjoyable, and the story more interesting. The fact that there’s so much humor to be found in the tale makes it even better — a few more smiles in the world would be a good thing.

    1. Writing about the book tempted me into another re-read. I’d forgotten some of the minor characters, as well as some of Toad’s scrapes. All of the animals are delightful; it’s no wonder that so many of us count it as a favorite book.

    1. Addendum: I just went to Overdrive to check out The Wind in the Willows and it is only available as an Audible. (I don’t mind, I can listen as I sew.) As many have said, it is still quite popular, but I’ll have to wait a few weeks for my turn.

    2. You’d love it, Lynda. I’m certain of that. And there’s no need to wait. If you click the link in the first sentence of the post, it will take you to an online version, with its own clickable links for the chapters. You may prefer listening, but I like to read, so the online version’s just fine — as well as being immediately available.

      1. I’m sure I will. I do both! I listen while I work on my sewing and quilting and then read while I take my lunch break, and also before I go to bed to help me fall asleep.

        1. I’ve tried audio books while I work, but it just doesn’t suit me. I can’t seem to concentrate on both at the same time. It’s the same reason I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I begin listening to the music and lose my train of thought, or I suddenly realize an hour has passed and I haven’t heard any of the music. I guess it’s another version of not being able to chew gum and walk.

          1. I’m with you on the music and writing! It can’t be done. I think what you are telling me falls into the myth of multitasking. Recent studies have indicated that when we multitask we aren’t as efficient as when we apply ourselves to one or the other. I find that if the plot is really intense, or if there are too many characters to follow I have to switch to the book. Last week this happened and I found myself assembling a row in a quilt block upside down and backwards… three times! I turned the book off and then block went together beautifully.

            1. Yep. That’s it, exactly. One of the concerns I’m hearing from teachers is that kids are losing the ability to concentrate, or to follow a plot or argument. There’s not firm agreement on the reasons, but everyone does agree that moving all classwork to computer, eliminating writing in favor of touchscreens, and too much use of social media all are playing a role. It’s going to be interesting to see how things are in another decade.

            2. Ding – Ding – ding – DING! Yup, and I’m not so certain I want to know. We spent A LOT of time on teaching comprehension (reading and verbal) in 1st and 2nd when I was in the classroom because we already saw it was a problem back then.

    1. That’s a perfect parallel. A bee taking a deep dive into something like a cactus flower looks remarkably like a dabbling duck — and both are in search of treats.

    1. You have a gray day? Lucky you! We’re still living through hot and sunny, though there are predictions of change. If it comes, we’ll be smiling, too. Perhaps even the ducks will smile — they’ll certainly have more pleasant conditions for their dabbling.

    1. That’s how I am with Pooh Bear. I recognize his image, and I know he loves honey, but that’s about it. I’d never heard of Paddington Bear until a friend dragged me to the movie. I fell in love with him immediately, and saw the movie twice.

    1. Aren’t they fun? They’re fairly easy to photograph, too, since they tend to stay in one spot once they’ve found food that appeals to them. They don’t mean to be amusing — food is serious business! — but I still smile.

    1. Film adaptations of books can be an iffy proposition, but the two reviews I read make it sound as though they pulled it off: movie and tv both. One detail that caught my attention was an assertion that there aren’t any willows in the book. I don’t know if that’s true, but finding out gives me another reason to re-read it.

  14. I dabbled in Wind in the Willows, but never read it cover to cover – but I really should read about Mr Toad. Heads or tails, ducks are fun to watch.

    1. I wonder if Steve G has read the book. Some of his recent frogs and toads look as though they could be auditioning for the part of Mr. Toad in a film adaptation. I was thinking of the ducks as an avian version of Esther Williams’s synchronized swimmers, and then I realized I’ve never seen more than a pair dabbling together. There may be more than one pair dabbling, but I’ve never seen three or more in a group. I guess I’ll just have to spend more time at the ponds, sitting on the bank and watching.

  15. I love your photos and the song. Like you, I missed “The Wind in the Willows” as a child, but unlike you, I have not yet had the opportunity to meet its protagonists. I will try to remedy this oversight posthaste! Thank you for your introduction!

    1. All of the characters are well-drawn and vivid. I’m especially fond of Mr. Toad, but each has qualities that make them memorable. It’s not such a long book, but it’s so well done that re-reading always leads to a new discovery. I had no idea until recently that the book began as bedtime stories Grahame told his son. One thing led to another, and now we get to hear the stories, too.

      1. I just reserved a copy at our local library and I look forward to making the acquaintance of Mr. Toad and his fellow creatures.

        Thank goodness for bedtime stories, the canon of literature would be much shorter if it weren’t for parents creating entire worlds for their children.

      1. And escape itself hides a tale. The word is etymologically ex-cape, which refers to what happens when someone is set upon by others and manages to pull free, leaving the assailants holding only the escapee’s cape.

        1. I had no idea. Now I’m thinking of all those creatures that don’t wear capes, but do leave body parts behind in order to escape. Some can regrow their parts, but the horde of lizards around my place apparently have to funtion minus their tails.

  16. That’s it!!! I ‘ve now dug out my old copy and know what I’m going to be reading for the next few days…thanks so much for that delightful reminder of those wonderfully eccentric friends from one’s childhood, Linda! And I live right by a city river where the ducks seem to spend at least half of their lives upside down/downside up …

    1. It’s a wonderful tale, and one that rewards re-reading even after a few decades have passed: a sure sign of good literature. I had to laugh at the association raised by your words about the “upside down/downside up” ducks. They brought to mind a parody of Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” that I learned as a child, and had forgotten. “The Song of Milkanwatha” was composed by Marc Anthony Henderson and published in 1883. I didn’t know that when I learned it c.1950.

      “He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
      Of the skin he made him mittens,
      Made them with the fur side inside,
      Made them with the skin side outside.
      He, to get the warm side inside,
      Put the inside skin side outside;
      He to get the cold side outside
      Put the warm side fur side inside.
      That’s why he put the fur side inside,
      Why he put the skin side outside,
      Why he turned them inside outside.”

      I can’t believe I actually memorized that!

      1. My goodness, Linda! I loved that parody – no-one has mentioned it to me since the 1950s until now. I am quite overcome with nostalgia….
        And yes – it is very silly. I still love sillinesss, thank goodness…

        1. There’s not a thing wrong with occasional silliness — or with nostalgia. But it is interesting what bits and pieces are buried in our memories. When something like this emerges, I always wonder what else is there!

  17. I never read Wind in the Willows to my kids, I wish I had. I read Tolkien and the Narnia books and much else. I suppose I can wait to read it to the grandkids (when these come into existence), or I could read it to myself right now.

    1. Or, you could read it now for your own enjoyment, and later for the grandkids’ enjoyment. It’s a fine tale: simple enough for a child’s enjoyment, and yet filled with characters that any adult recognizes from the office or the neighborhood. I think you’d like it.

  18. Mole is not a very good judge of songs, that’s for sure. Who’d expect a rat to sing such a delightful tune. Now I’ve another book to read and extend my adult childhood. Bottoms up!

    1. Sometimes I sing silly little songs to myself when I’m working. Mole probably wouldn’t like them any more than he liked Ratty’s song, but that’s ok. Silly songs can be a lot of fun, and a little more fun in the world wouldn’t hurt any of us.

      I think you’d love the book. Several people missed the fact that the first link in the post goes to an online copy, so you don’t even have to resort to a library or an online seller to enjoy it. I re-read it a chapter at a time, and had to force myself to not read ahead. It’s a story to be savored, but the temptation to binge was hard to resist once I got started.

      1. I did follow the link and saw all those chapters. At first I thought it was a link to Amazon but will take advantage of the free read. Thanks.
        I should try the silly songs. I spend too much of my thoughts on what’s going on in the world. Doesn’t solve anything, fortunately I don’t get ulcers…so far, and I’d be a bit more cheerful were I to at least mentally sing a ditty or two.

        1. I keep up with the news, but a lot of the so-called ‘news’ is just a rehash of what’s gone before, for the sake of the 24/7 news cycle and the media’s need for clicks. I’m occasionally amused to realize anew that so much of what we’re subjected to is no different than my mother’s 1950 soap operas. You could tune in two weeks after your last viewing, and discover the plot barely had advanced — if it had at all. Instructive.

  19. Oh, I loved Wind in the Willows!

    Every time I see ducks with their tails in the air, I recall that ditty: “Up tails all!”

    1. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that you would have enjoyed the book, or that you recall that line — and probably more — from the book. It’s such a charming tale, and well worth re-reading.

    1. Aren’t those cams great? We do need a good, strong cold front to move some of those ducks along, though. We have some mallards that have come in, and yesterday a fellow said he’d spotted the first of the coot scouts, but there aren’t many teal at all. Only the ospreys have shown up in any numbers, although the broadwing hawk migration’s begun.

  20. Duck watching is almost as fun as people watching. A delightful post woven with quotes from the book – you weave so well! We are looking forward to the weather cooling down to the eighties, seventies if we are lucky. The moon on the bay in fall is my favorite time of year.

    1. I’ve been trying to avoid weather-watching, but I just peeked, and next Friday’s low is projected to be 60F. Of course, that’s a week out, and I always add five degrees to their forecast number, just because. Still, it’s going to be better than it has been — and it may bring us more birds.

      Next weekend is the traditional Harvest Moon Regatta from Galveston to Port A, too. Don’t you know those sailors are going to be looking forward to seeing the moon on the water, not to mention those north winds!

  21. I love The Wind in the Willows! It’s been years since I read it – time to add it to the queue again. If there’s a good audio version, so much the better. Ducks are so funny with their hineys in the air. I’m sorry to hear that they don’t enjoy being observed. Ha!

    1. Now that I think about it, The Wind in the Willows seems like just the sort of book you’d enjoy. It’s a nice cleanse for the mental palate — fun, easy, and light, as well as having some things to ponder if you’re so inclined. I don’t listen to audio books, so I don’t have any recommendations, but I’ll bet there is a good version out there. I hope you’ll find one, or at least read it.

  22. Of course I was intrigued by the quotation regarding messing about in boats. My wife was slow in warming to boats having a great respect for water (wise, I think). But it was the dabbling about with this and that – now repairing, now rejigging – that brought her around. I say I’m in the boat for the sailing and she’s in it for the fixing. Of course, that is a mighty fine combination! All the same she has taken to the sailing more and more and I find a joy in certain bits of repair and such.

    1. That is a good combination. Two fixers never would leave the dock, and two sailors who can’t fix would necessarily become what one of my customers calls “checkbook mechanics” — the wonderful people who keep diesel mechanics, fiberglass specialists, and varnishers in business.

      That both of you can take pleasure in the sailing and the maintenance is even better, of course. Everything in life requires some maintenance, but taking pleasure in a well-maintained craft can be unspeakable joy.

    1. If you really want to have some fun, read it aloud. I have a friend who’s gone to the effort of memorizing it, so she can recite it for her grandchildren when they visit a pond and some ducks show up.

  23. I never read The Wind in the Willow. But I watched an animation of it together with my kids when they were small, and we all loved it. I might actually have to look up the book, with this incentive of yours.

  24. It’s easy to find the complete text online, so you don’t even have to go to the library! I’d never seen an animation, but I found one after you mentioned it. It was great fun, but the writing in the book is often quite sly, and a lot of fun. Children would miss some things, but that’s exactly where it appeals to adults.

  25. I came late to his wonderful book too, when I was reading it to my daughter. That is one of only a couple of books that we refused to part with as her childhood slipped away. We were lucky enough to find a beautifully illustrated edition and is a treasure. Now I want to go revisit Ratty and his friends…

    1. Many of those illustrated children’s books are treasures, especially the ones printed in the days when padded covers and engraved illustrations were common. Sometimes I wonder if those books inoculated me to such as the Kindle. We had plenty of cardboard covered books, like the Little Golden Books series, but we had a special shelf where the “good” books were kept: the (ten volume?) Children’s Classics series, A Child’s Garden of Verses, the Bobbsey Twins series, and so on.

      Reading is a physical as well as a mental experience. There certainly are advantages to e-readers, and I do plenty of computer reading, but you can’t beat a real book for memories like reading to your daughter.

      1. No, you really can’t, and my daughter feels the same. Every now and then her dad will teasingly try to talk her into a Kindle, and she shuts him right down. They are treasures, aren’t they? I vividly remember reading my copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses in my grandmother’s kitchen. Sigh….:)

  26. These we have, the dabblers! Mallards mostly, spring and summer though, not now. What I’m most impressed are how sharp your photos are, especially the middle one. What camera did you use? At this point of time, we have very little birds or ducks to photograph. I haven’t been birding now… we’ve had two snow storms already!

    1. That middle photo benefited from blue sky and sunlight; it helped to make the water blue, and the image sharper. On the days of the other photos, it was cloudy and gray, with dim light. Even making adjustments for that can’t capture the quality good light provides.

      My camera’s a Canon Rebel T6s. For these, I was using my telephoto lens, all the way out to 300mm. It does well for me — if the birds are close enough.

      Our winter birds are starting to come in now, especially osprey, and mallards. A lot of ducks apparently are still hanging out north of us, especially the teal. It’s so interesting to watch their movement — the migrations. The hummingbirds are gone now, and some of the songbirds. The world goes on, completing its cycles.

  27. Love the Wind in the Willows – and the ditty. Ducks are fun – we have quite a lot on the river here. I remember a particularly cheeky one that insisted on being fed by folks sitting eating outside a pub. He was quite a character!

    1. Ann, I just found your blog this morning through the link on Liz’s page. I’d tried clicking your name on Steve G’s blog, but since you hadn’t linked your name to your blog, I assumed you didn’t have one. Silly me wasn’t clever enough to click your avatar, and find you that way! I’m delighted to find another flower-lover and photographer, and I’m so glad you came to visit. You might want to follow my other blog, Lagniappe, since that’s where I post mostly nature photos.

      Ducks are wonderfully fun. We once had a mama who managed to bring a brood of seventeen safely to adulthood — they were such pets they’d sit in my lap, and some returned during migration for several years. We’d trained them to a certain call for their treats, and it was fun to call the returning flock and see “the kids” come running for their goodies.

      1. I’m glad you found me! And I’m now following Lagniappe and am just looking at your lovely photo of the winged loosestrife. I love the community aspect of blgging and finding other like-minded folks. :)
        Seventeen babies – that must have been one busy mama duck! And lots of entertainment too. I’ve had ducks come and size up the garden here but haven’t encouraged them because we have two cats – maybe in the future though!

        1. The phrase ‘world wide web’ is so appropriate. We do weave a web of relationships as we roam around this cyber world, and it’s wonderful fun. Sharing the fun we have in the natural world’s a good part of the enjoyment, too. I’ve always thought of blogging as show-and-tell for adults.

  28. We were entertained by both dabbler and divers while waiting for one of the boats at Many Glacier in Montana. I believe it was the boat at the upper of the two lakes we traveled before hiking to see Salamander Glacier. It was such fun to watch those ducks do their thing. Wish we had brought along our bird books and strong binoculars. Would have been fun to make an identification or two.

    1. I could watch these ducks for a good long while. They are amusing, and sometimes it seems to me that they amuse one another, too.It must have been great, being able to watch them in such a splendid location. Whether I ever get to Montana is an open question, but from reports like yours, I know it would be wholly enjoyable.

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