On Saving Fish

I just rescued a fish from a falcon.

Not sure why I did it, although it was an instant reaction.  My desk is near a sliding door to the backyard of our townhome, which opens onto a beautiful creek/pond with flowers and trees and lots of wildlife, including many large koi, turtles and ducks.

This isn’t really about ducks, by the way.

With large koi, turtles and ducks come… baby koi, turtles and ducks.  And babies are cute, and to birds of prey, they are delicious. As you may know, I break the rules and feed the ducks.  I researched and discovered it’s okay to feed wild ducks as long as they are not migrating (ours are permanent residents) and you don’t feed them crap like white bread. We serve organic quinoa at our backyard duck cafe.

ducksleep
Mom and babies rest in the shade of a garden chair after a fine meal of organic quinoa.

I had just cast a handful of quinoa onto the patio for the babies and their mother, which often involves kicking out this particular adult male, not because I don’t want to feed him, but because if the babies are eating where he wants to eat, he picks them up in his beak, shakes them, and tosses them away.  What an asshole!  No shaken-duckling syndrome at our place.  He’s outta here.

So mom and the kids are eating, which involves pecking at the grains and then walking over to one of the plants to use the saucer as a water trough, then waddling back for more seeds.

ducky
A person can get attached to this kind of cuteness.

But then suddenly, the mom duck starts quacking an alarm like a maniac. This was even more extreme than the usual stuff during mating season, when the males chase down the females, running and flying past the door like ducks out of hell.  Only this time, she runs off to the right, out of my view, with 3 of the ducklings in her wake.

Okay, so we’re near the hills and we get egrets and herons.  These birds love koi, but the big koi are too heavy, so they go after the babies, which are like regular goldfish -sized.  The HOA put up an intricate system of fishing line over the pond to keep those birds out.

But there are falcons and hawks. These are incredible, beautiful, and vicious hunters.  They like fish and they like duckling.

birdfly
Look out below!

Running out to see what was going on, I saw momma duck in the water, quacking like a maniac, and flying up on the bank at something.  And behind a large rock there it was, this very large peregrine falcon.  I was certain, based on how freaked out mom was, that the falcon had snagged a duckling, but when I got there, what I found was the falcon poised over a medium sized (figure about 8-10” long) koi.  They grow ‘em big in Woodland Hills.

Relieved it wasn’t a duck (afterthought: what illusion have I adopted that says ducks have more right to live than fish?), I saw the fish was still breathing, although it had a cut that was probably from the hawk’s talon after being fished out of the water.  But I had already started running at the falcon.  That’s kind of stupid as they have been known to attack humans and this was a big one, but it saw me running and flew off.

I nudged the fish into the water gently, where it quickly swam away. We’ll see if it survived.  I’ve seen fluke and sea robins in Great South Bay on Long Island swim away with worse.

So, momma duck went off at a falcon to save a fish?  Or maybe she just saw the hunting bird as a threat to her babies.  In any event, she put up a good fight, called me over the help, and together we saved the fish.  Maybe.

Perhaps this was interference with the prime directive of nature, but it was just a reaction.  I needed to save the baby duck!  Okay so it was a fish!  Whatever!

duckinbush
Quackinbush: can you see the duck in this bush? Yes, it got confused and landed there, then acted as if it were on purpose.

Best of all, an hour ago I had nothing to write about, and now I’m done.

That’s sort of what happens when you write a novel.  You write. And rewrite (and repeat) and then, one day, you’re out of stuff to write about and you’re done.

ONE MORE THING:

Guitarists pride themselves on their callouses.  That’s right, on the fretting hand, the fingertips become calloused from hours of playing.  Pressing on the strings hurts at first and you need to build up callouses so you can play for a long time.

Today, I went for my TSA pre-check scanning to get my Known Traveler Number and part of it is they take your fingerprints. Well, it turns out that on my left (fretting) hand, my fingertip-prints are non-distinct.  That’s right, I played my fingertips off!

fingertips
untraceable!

I guess I missed my calling as an untraceable safe-cracker.

Please read my finished novel, Smoking in Bed: Dreams of Love, Sex and Terrorism.

It would be great if you can get that done before I run out of things to write about in my next novel, a period piece set in the Civil War south that’s full of action and adventure and mystery, An Honorable Death, inspired by my all-time favorite author, Mark Twain.

You’ll hear plenty about that one when it’s time.  Meanwhile, read Smoking in Bed so I can stop pestering all of you.  Yes, you.

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