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April 06, 2004: A little bit of nature

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Yesterday one of my coworkers, who had been outside on the deck talking on the phone, came into the office and announced “There’s a turtle.”

Naturally the rest of us dropped whatever we were doing to take advantage of such a wonderful excuse to procrastinate on work and rushed outside with the office binoculars to the deck to peer down at the river bank. Sure enough, there it was. A turtle. A fairly big turtle, actually, probably bigger than my foot. And it was just sitting on the bank, occasionally looking around, sunning itself.

As we watched, a second turtle surfaced in the water a few dozen feet away from the first, paddling its little legs just under the surface in a lazy fashion until it established maximum floating capacity, and then just bobbed there with its head poking out of the water.

Later in the day, as I was peering outside to check on the turtle I noticed a little cluster of ducks waddling across the bank. That’s not actually all that exciting because we see ducks around here pretty much every day, but while I was eying them and the turtle another bird came swooping in. At first I thought it was some kind of duck, but the neck and beak were far too long and narrow. We get quite an assortment of wildlife here on the river – heck a few months ago we even had some kind of swan (although we couldn’t figure out if it was a trumpeter or some other kind because the only distinction is apparently wing span and neither of us felt particularly like swimming out into the middle of the river to get the swan to spread his wings so we could measure him). But I’d never seen a bird like this before. It was kind of pretty in a muted way – a silvery blue on the head and back and with a brown neck and very narrow beak.

A hasty bird book / internet search led us to the conclusion that it was a green heron, a name which makes perfect sense, seeing as how there isn’t the slightest bit of green on the bird whatsoever. It eventually flew away, however, and despite our checking on it every hour or so, the turtle on the bank showed no signs of doing anything more than just sitting there being turtley, so we all eventually gave up and went back to doing actual work. Ah well.

Today the turtle was there again this morning, although it had moved a few yards downstream. It was still there when we walked over to Chevy’s for an office lunch, but later this afternoon, it had disappeared. Alas, for the rest of the day there has been nothing more exciting out there than ducks.

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