It was a brisk fall day. A friend and I were hidden among the cattails, binoculars in hand, field guide open between us. We were both new at birding. The wide assortment of ducks bobbing out on the reservoir, nondescript in their eclipse plumage, was giving us fits. That’s why we had come–to learn how to identify fall ducks.
Scanning the opposite shoreline, I was ticking off mallards, shovelers, gadwalls… and gasp! What was that man doing with a gun!!? He had it pointed straight at us!
We hastily decided that this was neither the time nor place to be learning our waterfowl. Backing out of the vegetation, we turned and hurried for the car. It wasn’t until later, when we were in the car heading home, that we realized what we should have known all along. It was hunting season. Reflecting back, it’s unlikely the hunters even realized we were there, outfitted as we were in khaki and olive drab, skulking in the thick riparian foliage.