March 16, 1840


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The ducks alight at this season on the windward side of the river in the smooth water, and swim about by twos and threes, pluming themselves and diving to peck at the root of lily, and the cranberries which the frost has not loosened.  It is impossible to approach them within gunshot when they are accompanied by the gull, which rises sooner and makes them restless. They fly to windward first in order to get under weigh, and are more easily reached by the shot if approached on that side. When preparing to fly they swim about with their heads erect, and then, gliding along a few feet with their bodies just touching the surface, rise heavily with much splashing, and fly low at the first, if not suddenly aroused, but otherwise rise directly to survey the danger. The cunning sportsman is not in haste to desert his position, but waits to ascertain if, having got themselves into flying trim, they will not return over the ground in their course to a new resting-place.