I reached Duxbury and almost started walking by rote. The route I marched today is the same one I will take every two weeks this spring, every two weeks this fall, for a citzien science project. My name is John, I'm 39 years old, and I count ducks.
I'd been in and around Duxbury all weekend long, anyway, leading "snowy owl prowls" out on Duxbury Beach. While no snowies showed themselves on these particular excursions, a peregrine falcon did, and a northern harrier did. Duxbury is a wildlife hotspot for the South Shore, a beautiful mix of woods and ponds and marshes and shoreline that attracts species of all varieties, from horseshoe crabs to bald eagles. It's practically my second home, professionally.
So I walked up and over the rise I know so well. I took the right turn to head for the platform overlooking the pond. I turned left and headed for the Cathedral of Trees at Insurance Point. I even stood in my favorite scoping positions, staring at the ice, subconsciously moving from duck spot to duck spot. It's a routine I've followed for three years now. It's how data sets of natural world activity are built.
But there's one other activity on the horizon for North Hill Marsh. We'll soon be cleaning out the nest boxes on the marsh, checking in on the tree swallow colony's productivity, while it's down in Mexico fattening up for the big flight north this spring. We'll even check the twenty or so wood duck nest boxes. One year we found a sleeping screech owl in one of the boxes. What will we find this year? Oo, I can't wait to find out. For today, though, I had an appointment to keep, a lecture for friends at the Duxbury Senior Center.
Don't worry, North Hill Marsh. I'll be back.