Columnist

There are ducklings at the creek.

This may not seem like a very big deal to you, but it is to me. I don’t remember ever seeing ducklings in the stretch of Sligo Creek that’s not far from my house. Ducks, yes. Ducklings, no.

I always considered this an insult. Every year there are usually a few mallard ducks, along with the occasional wood-duck couple, at the creek. They’re drawn, I suspect, by humans who occasionally feed them. Looking at ducks is nice enough, but it’s nothing compared with looking at ducklings.

But every time spring rolled around, the ducks would vanish. They were like yuppie couples who decided the schools in their edgy neighborhood weren’t good enough for their precious offspring. Someone else was getting to watch the ducklings, and I burned with envy.

But this morning when I was walking Nate — the neighbor’s dog, a loaner — I spotted ripples in the surface of the creek as I crossed a little arched bridge that goes over it. My eyes followed the concentric waves to their source, and I saw a fuzzy little duckling emerging from between a pair of large rocks on the creek’s bank. And then came another.

These, it seemed, were the late sleepers, for from the other side of the creek paddled their six siblings, led by the mother duck.


A female wood duck navigates Sligo Creek in Montgomery County on Tuesday. Not pictured — her brood of eight ducklings. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)

Eight ducklings. Wood ducks, if I’m not mistaken.

This is the same stretch of creek where I saw a beaver many years ago. In fact, I saw another one there last week. (Either that or a manatee. The water was a bit cloudy.)

Taking a gander at some geese

That little duck family is nothing compared with what’s going on at Lisa Davis and Dick Bugley’s house on Crab Creek in Annapolis. After closing on their waterfront home three years ago, they received a letter from the elderly seller. She suggested they not use their dock during the month of May.

“Most people would think that’s very bizarre,” Lisa told me. “They’d be offended.”

A lot of people in that area have boats, and they desire year-round access to their docks. But Lisa and Dick were okay sacrificing theirs for a while. They are animal lovers, and they approved of the reason the dock would have to be off-limits: A Canada goose couple returns every year to raise its family there.

That first spring, the couple — once known as John and Mary but dubbed Renwick and Minerva after Dick’s Nova Scotian grandparents — hung out but didn’t procreate. The second year, Minerva laid four eggs but none survived.

This spring was a different story. Four goslings hatched, just the first wave in an avian population boom. There are now 10 goslings in all, spread among three or four goose couples.

“They don’t just come every once in a while,” Lisa said. “They hang out all day. . . . They all play together. It’s hilarious.”

It probably helps that Lisa puts out cracked corn for them every morning. She’d been buying it online until someone suggested she get it from Bowen’s Farm Supply, $8.50 for a 50-pound bag.

There are ducks and ducklings, too. And deer. And herons. To Lisa and Dick, the scene outside their house resembles a resort — but a family resort, not some hot-and-heavy, booze-soaked Sandals. The goose parents chased off all the unaccompanied geese.

Lisa said she’s heard some grumbling from neighbors.

“I understand that some people hate the geese,” she said. They foul the landscape and the waterscape — the geese, not the people (although Lisa thinks powerboats probably cause more pollution than birds).

“Of course, they do things in the yard,” she said of the geese. “That’s what I have a hose for.”

Dick’s a lawyer. Lisa’s in cybersecurity. They both work from home.

“It’s a glass house,” Lisa said.

They’re two minutes from downtown Annapolis, and whenever they like, they can look up from their work and out at the nature around them.

Reuniting

Another reunion:

Potomac Senior High (Oxon Hill, Md.) Class of 1968 — Oct. 27. Email Joe Fitzgerald at nickelman2005@yahoo.com.

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/people/john-kelly.