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Some very odd ducks

By By John T. McNeill
October 20, 2011

COCHECTON, NY — My wife and I have a home on the Upper Delaware in the Town of Cochecton. I have been coming to the Upper Delaware for 50 years, and have always enjoyed the profusion of wildlife in the area. Every time I canoe down the river, there are visual experiences great for the heart and soul. But this past weekend, there was an event that was hard to believe.

Last weekend was “guy’s weekend,” centered around playing golf in the area. Our group had just returned from playing golf at the Villa Roma, and we were sitting on the deck (raised as a result of the ’06 flood) enjoying some cocktails and snacks, when one of my friends said, “What’s that floating down the rier?” The sight was 30 to 40 feet from the Pennsylvania shore, and it appeared to be four small ducks, dark in color.

My wife and I are both amateur ornithologists, so we know more than the average bear (a good choice of phrase as you will soon see) about the avian kingdom. I went and got my binoculars, and to my amazement, floating down the river, with just their heads above the water line, were four juvenile black bears wll within 10 feet of each other. Mama bear was nowhere to be seen. After floating another 50 or 60 feet, they all climbed out of the river and up the bank, stopping at that point to shake off, and then running into the woods. They were all, I would estimate, 30 to 40 ppounds, so they were probably siblings from this year.

We have seen a number of bears over the years, including one juvenile bear some years ago that swam all the way across the river from New York to Pennsylvania, but what occurred last weekend was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
[John T. McNeill is a resident of Sicklerville, NJ and Cochecton, NY.]