Over the past few mornings, I have met fishermen and waterfowl hunters at the boat landing in Riverview Park in Radford. We talk about most anything, weather, crowds, work situations, and eventually about the kinds of birds, fish, and other animals we have recently seen along the New River.
One waterfowl hunter was checking the area for Canada Geese. We watched one long skein of geese fly by us. The geese honked a little and circled towards a farm field. We talked about geese, and he mentioned that he had seen speckled bellies a couple of times between Radford and Parrott on the river. I asked him to describe the geese, and I realized that he was talking about Greater White-fronted Geese, a species quite rare in this part of Virginia.
Another morning a fishermen asked me what I was looking at...I was just watching a few tree swallows perched on the electric line that crosses the river near the boat landing. I told him that earlier in the day I had seen an otter. He mentioned that he saw otters frequently and sometimes river weasels. The latter was his name for mink.
For me it is a blessing to learn local names of plants and animals. In the past week, I have learned two: