A pond is home to many creatures who live in it, on it, or around it. But sometimes, no matter where you live, you really want a better view. In my pond there is a biggish flat rock, completely surrounded by water. It is a long way from shore, but it is always worth a look through my binoculars. In the last ten days I have seen five different visitors using it to rest on, sunbathe on, seek refuge on, or hunt from. Here they are. Not the world’s best photos, because of the distance, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.
The first thing I saw was a big snapping turtle. It swam past me the other day:
and a day or two later there it was on The Rock:
This one obviously hasn’t read the books claiming that they mostly sun themselves by floating around in the water. And I have seen it there on three different occasions now.
Next, I saw a Canada Goose. There were seven or eight on my pond in early spring, now down to two or three, and no goslings.
The one on the pinnacle of The Rock was apparently sleeping on one leg. Why do birds do that, I wonder?
(This really is the same rock, just taken from a slightly different vantage point on the opposite shore.)
I have a Hooded Merganser:
with eight ducklings on the pond:
and one day there they were, all up there on The Rock.
This was a bit worrying, since I now knew that the Snapping Turtle liked The Rock, and snapping turtles love a tasty duckling for dinner. Indeed, the next hooded merganser I saw had only four ducklings. Was it the same one, with only half her family left, or a different one? I may never know.
They weren’t the only ducks that liked The Rock. This delicate wood duck with six ducklings (three hiding behind her) had been frequenting one end of the pond.
And with all six ducklings she climbed up on The Rock to enjoy the view:
For all these ducks and their families, the appeal of The Rock is twofold. Firstly, it is land, so water predators like otters or mink can’t reach them. But it is also an accessible piece of dry land. Most of the shoreline is overgrown with reeds, bushes, and a wide variety of undergrowth, so getting out of the water isn’t easy. The Rock is different. Secondly and most importantly, it is an island, so they are also safe from land predators like foxes and coyotes.
The final occupant (so far) is a Great Blue Heron. A single one is hanging around this summer.
Here he is in the distance on The Rock:
For him, it is a an excellent perch from which to hunt. Most of the time he was looking fixedly down at the water waiting for a passing fish:
Beaver lodges can also be used as perches, but more often by birds or mammals. They present too much of an obstacle course for animals with short legs that can’t fly, like turtles or ducklings. Maybe I’ll talk about them another time. For now The Rock reigns supreme.