The autumn minuet has begun.
One day in mid-September we noticed that the ospreys were simply gone. We don't know if they departed en masse or whether they drifted off to their winter homes one by one.
The geese have arrived. By the dozens and by the hundreds, they sail down into the cornfields, and chatter loudly as they peck about for stray kernels. Hunters and their retriever dogs are in the fields, too. They're hiding their gun blinds beneath mounds of mowed cornstalks.
Cormorants perch on navigation markers and buffle-head ducks bob serenely on the river. In Anchorage Cove, the great blue heron has resumed his patrols of our shoreline. With his ancient foes, the ospreys, gone, he has the salt marshes and tidal flats to himself. He has even flapped up to perch on the ospreys' abandoned nest. With an intent yellow eye, he looks downriver for signs of the coming winter.