A. V. Walters

Egrets

I always think of egrets as being shore birds. In the wacky world of associations and personal superstitions, I always believed that an egret (or heron) sighting was a sign of good luck. (Imagine how I felt when I lived down by Oakland’s Lake Merritt!) Here on the farm we are landlocked. The only bodies of water nearby are farm ponds fashioned to store water for livestock.

In spring, though, we have vernal pools. Even the briefest interval of rain can fill the bottom of the valley with a temporary lake that attracts ducks, geese, and (yes!) egrets. They are a brilliant white contrast against the spring green. It’s always a bit of a shock to spy them, white flags, all the way across the valley. You’d think they’d stick to the pools, though they don’t. While the ducks bob and the geese laze about on the ponds’ edges, the egrets are out parading across the hillside with their weird stilted gait. I have binoculars on the windowsill and I watch them marching in strange egret formations—spaced equidistant in respect to some territorial mandate. One morning I counted 29 of them, in and amongst the cows on the hill.

What are they eating? I fear it may be our frogs. I love the chorus of peeps and croaks that we get as soon as the rain falls. The evenings are loud with them. A friend from Sausalito recently commented on the noisy crickets and I just laughed. City folk! Them’s frogs. If the volume is any measure, I think we have enough to share with some hungry egrets.

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