Dec 27 2008
Saturday I stopped at Duck Hollow in hopes of seeing some interesting birds. What I hadn’t counted on was the flooding of the Mongahela River.
It rained a lot earlier in the week (and even more yesterday evening) so the river was high and fast and muddy with debris floating on water – garbage and worse.
All I found at Duck Hollow were a lot of mallards and about five fishermen. The mallards were loafing, the fishermen were catching fish. The men didn’t need to see the fish in the muddy water, just feel them on the line, so they were having a successful day. But there were no shorebirds, no gulls, no fish-eating birds because their preferred habitat was temporarily gone.
I was disappointed by the lack of diversity until I heard a belted kingfisher chatter along Nine Mile Run. The creek used to roar down to the river during heavy rain but the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association restored it with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers. Thanks to a series of rocky waterfalls the creek takes a little longer to make the journey and erodes the valley a little less.
One of the fishermen pointed out that the water was clear in the creek just above the first waterfall. That’s where the kingfisher was hunting.
I found the bird among the trees and examined him for a while through my binoculars. Have you ever noticed that kingfishers have a white dot in front of each eye? I wonder why.
There was only a kingfisher worth watching at Duck Hollow but I noticed something new. Discovering those white dots made the trip worthwhile.
(photo by Chuck Tague)