Jan 27, 2006

The Bird Woman of Ortuvann

I had seen her once before, a tad incongruous with her grocery cart, fur coat and purple-brown hair, and sunglasses, feeding the ducks. When she left, I took this picture:

Today I saw her again, her grocery cart full of bread. I stopped and looked at the huge crowd of mallards surrounding her, and she noticed me. "Enjoying the view?" she cheerfully asked and I said yes. When she was done feeding the birds, she started to chat with me. I learned that she started feeding the ducks when the cold weather came, that she came twice a week and chose days when she knew others wouldn't be feeding the birds (like on Fridays), and that she had regular contact with the local ornithological association. As we chit-chatted about the regulars that inhabit Ortuvann, the pond we were standing by, we realized there were no gulls, and Bird Woman said she hadn't seen any gulls since Christmas. I wondered why; they are everywhere (also in my picture above).

The ducks surrounded us while we were talking, staying close to their benefactor, being thorough about finding any and all crumbs, and also being quite relaxed. When we said goodbye and she turned to leave, most of the ducks immediately set off after her, following her for several yards, until they realized that she was definitely leaving. I had moved on down the path a bit, crossing a little wooden bridge, and turned back to watch the ducks. Suddenly, a good number of them took flight and flew the few feet to the little stream. I was amused at how they could find a spot to land in crowded water and not crash into other ducks. After all, it takes them a few feet to come to a stop.

I would be very happy to come across the duck lover again. Standing still, enjoying a chat, let me discover some details in the mallards I hadn't really been aware of before. Beautiful birds!

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