Hugging the northern shoreline of Victoria Harbour is the Songhees Walkway, also know as the West Song. Not only is it a peaceful alternative to the grunt of Esquimalt Road, a more direct route leading from our apartment to downtown, but a great place to encounter some of the nicest people in Victoria.
Unlike Paris, London or Hong Kong, where it is now illegal to make eye contact on the street (perhaps take this with a pinch of salt), the Songhees Walkway appears to be the polar opposite; if a passerby fails to acknowledge you, you are perfectly within your rights to perform a citizen’s arrest (again, don’t forget the salt).
Yesterday, I found myself talking to a kind-eyed man with a russet, sun-faded fedora hat covering his head of greys. We had both stopped to admire a raft of small ducks gathering in the shallows close to the harbour wall. “Hooded mergansers,” the man informed me.
“Oh. They’re funny little things,” I responded, watching a particular individual as it skimmed the
water’s surface with its bill. Light brown on its underbelly and black and white on its back, I was unable to escape the observation that half of the bird’s body was dedicated to its head. “Big heads, aren’t they?”
“They’re migratory,” the man said, happily ignoring my remarks. “A bit like my wife and I; we winter here, away from of the Calgary snowfall. We’re following them I guess.”
“Ah, snow birds?”
“No, they’re mergansers, hooded mergansers!”