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Redhead ducks/Hubble

Redhead duck

Photo: January 2007
By Martin Cox

The winds came and then were gone. I remember a few days ago, after several days of continuous, muscular blowing, the trees in Elysian Park were so still it seemed like a joke, like they were going to pop up, start dancing and drop a branch at any moment. Five days later, with the weather swings, no one even remembers the wind, unless you have walked around Echo Park Lake, where a floating raft of sticky-looking debris has been moving around the lake body ever since the wind blew trash, mulch and who knows what into the lake. It blew away various waterfowl, some of whom returned, some maybe not. Before the wind, Martin Cox counted five Redhead (or Canvasbacks?) ducks -- unusual visitors to Echo Park Lake, where the annual bird count last Sunday was higher than last year's. Yesterday morning, the debris had blown into the southeast corner of the lake. A living-room full of it, it seemed. Three of the Redheads had returned. I saw two, napping on the water. Martin and I walked around the lake, clockwise, while he caught me up on waterfowl goings-on. We passed a heron at its usual early a.m. spot and the regulars: the one-of-a-kind mixed breeds, like the all-caramel duck with a black bill and Cleo, Franken and Hairdo. This year there have been more American Wigeons than usual, and we saw a flotilla of the petite, doll-like birds. At the north end of the lake there was a solo lesser scaup, the black-and-white duck featured in the famous, disturbing Thomas Eakins painting. (Not the Eakins recently acquired by LACMA.)

Also, there were joggers and uninhibiteds: the violin player, a woman working out to her i-tunes and weird body movements. The usual. It was good to be back in the morning.

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