This Summer is a special time for watching wildlife. Some old friends, like the goose and the red-wing blackbird have passed on, and the different behavior of their replacements reminds me that they are no longer with us.
The improved vision after the cataract surgery brings vivid colors and acuity that departed about sixty years ago. Instead of seeing things through the equivalent of dirty, scratched lenses, the colors are back – and small creatures . . . the chicks that accompany the turkey hens . . . are no longer just blurs of motion, but are distinct little birds. Gander has returned with a replacement goose – she moves young, without the hitches that his old mate had. The replacement red-wing blackbird takes up the same perch that his predecessor did – but doesn’t fly by Gander. The little diving ducks – Golden Eyes and Ruddy’s show their independence within a few days of hatching, while the Canada Geese continue to move in their disciplined family groups. This year, Gander is beginning to train not just his flock of goslings, but 4 additional flocks of grand-goslings. Frankly, 5 hatches make the pond a spot to walk carefully.
The bluish purple of the grass seed heads – it has been a long while since I could notice that color – the yellowing of the lenses obscured it. I notice again the slightly different colors of Kentucky bluegrass, of the smooth brome, the timothy, the creeping meadow foxtail. The grass is tall – and the near vertical goose necks walking through show clearly – motion, vertical, and identifiable. I am glad I didn’t put the surgery off.
The improved color perception made our visiting cow elk easy to spot – she comes by late in the Spring for about 5 days, to have a calf she can hide on the hill, graze the hay field, and water at the pond. The fawns are more distinct – and the better vision makes them easy to spot, where a year ago they were well hidden. The marsh hawk has always been visible because of its flight pattern – but now the color pattern is visible again.