Ramble with Storm: Doves to ducks, personal to universal

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Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, the family’s mixed Lab.

A Eurasian collared-dove flew over as we turned down the alley. I was rather pleased with myself for picking it out in flight by noting its differences from a mourning dove: blockier, bigger shape and wider tail.

And my ID was confirmed when it landed the electrical wires and immediately made that distinctive croaking sound.

Doves were everywhere this morning.

A couple mourning doves fluttered off, with that distinctive whistling sound their wings make–I can’t describe any better than that–when we set off.

Cooing came on all sides, in town and out. Of course it might have helped that we left a bit early than normal and that is later in the year, so sunrise comes later.

Dozens of doves were working the grit on the gravel/dirt paths at the far end of the extended ramble. I bet for the ramble, I saw somewhere around 100 or more doves.

From my end and what I see daily in my corner of the world, it was a banner spring and summer for doves.

But here is the problem or, more accurately, the danger in extrapolating from the personal to the universal: there may be all kinds of reasons for the plethora of doves being seen by me around our town, including my being more regular with my feeder and farmers changing fields or a more normal spring and summer.

I think the classic example of the danger of extrapolating from the personal to the universal comes from duck hunters and the aerial surveys flown by the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Those surveys are one of the greatest sources of information on trends on ducks and other waterfowl in North America. It is something that Illinois residents should truly be proud of.

But nothing is funnier than having a duck hunter, I include myself in this, come home from a slow day in the duck blind, then pulling up the aerial survey and seeing that 400,000 ducks were counted on the Illinois River valley.

Talk about grousing, or should that be quacking or honked off.

So while I would love to suggest this will be a banner year for dove hunters come Sept. 1, I would not stake my life or reputation it.

Sample size is just my local size.

Only two Canada geese grazed and crapped on the ball field. But a woodpecker hammered on the wooden light poles. I managed to find the woodpecker near the top of one pole, but I could not ID it.

Several goldfinch flew around as we crossed the side rail and entered the area known as the town pond and again on the far end of the extended ramble.

A lone fisherman in a small boat and a trolling motor worked the shoreline of the south old clay pit.

We got to talking and he said yesterday they just caught big bass, one after another, but this morning he could not do anything and had drawn zero interest in the buzzbait early, which is why he was fishing a classic purple worm.

He mentioned what a difference a cooler morning and higher pressure can make in fishing.

In that, i would say he is correctly extrapolating from the personal to the universal.

Near home, the meathead chased a gray squirrel up the neighbor’s red maple.

Four mourning doves lifted off from below the bird feeder on our porch as we came up the front steps.

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