Cattails waving in the wind whisper in a dry, crackly voice. Over on the opposite shore of a pond, a hen mallard lets out a call to lure in more ducks.
If you listen closely you’ll also hear the voice of the Boise River as its waters ripple over rocks and riffles.
It’s cool because this part of the north bank of the Boise River has been hidden from view and inaccessible to the public before the construction of the Marianne Williams Park.
Boise’s newest park is perfect for a late fall or early winter stroll or bike ride. In fact, bicyclists love it because they can ride through the park on a smooth Greenbelt path and not rattle their teeth on the old pathway along Warm Springs Avenue. That path is showing its age with cracks and bumps.
The park’s pathways are between the East ParkCenter Bridge and Eckert Road.
The 70-acre park, located next to Harris Ranch in what is historically known as Barber Valley, is a work in progress.
The site was donated to the city of Boise in November 2005 by Larry Williams in honor of his wife, Marianne.
Besides being an extension of the Greenbelt for walkers and cyclists, it also gives anglers easier access to the north side of the river.
The park features both lawns and natural areas. The land has been cleared of invasive trees and bushes and replanted with native species.
A network of streams, ponds and wetlands are being developed in the park.
I’ve been watching the park develop over the years, and it’s another jewel in Boise’s park system for which we all should be thankful.
Oh, yeah, another reason I like it is because it’s close to Bown Crossing, with its variety of specialty restaurants, coffee shops and bars where you can stop after an outing.
If you’ve passed the MK Nature Center on the Boise Greenbelt over the past month, you probably noticed a clear plastic covering over one of the streamwalk displays. Don’t worry — nothing’s broken.
Actually, Idaho artist Marcus Pierce has been working on wildlife murals on the once-bare concrete walls of the streamwalk display. There’s a really neat great blue heron painted on the wall.
It’s going to beautify the display, which is much needed, says Dave Cannamela, supervisor of the Nature Center. The center has done a lot with new signs and a remodeled wildlife display in the visitors center. (Check out my story on that in the Nov. 30 Scene magazine.)
Pierce has worked for 15 years creating both public and studio figurative art, according to his website.
His large-scale public artwork can be seen throughout Boise. He has been awarded grants from the Boise Department of Arts and History, Idaho Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, the website says.
I can’t wait to see his finished work.
Fifty. 75. 100.
When you see groups of that many ducks on Southwest Idaho’s rivers, you know the Northerns have arrived.
And, more often than not, they arrive from Canada around or after Thanksgiving.
If you’re a duck hunter, you know you’re in for some good hunting.
If you’re a bird watcher, it’s time to head over to places like the Snake River and be in awe of the massive flights of waterfowl crossing our state.
Maybe they’re going south. Maybe they’ll spend part of the winter here. Who knows, but it’s one of nature’s gifts to watch.
Many ducks that migrate over Idaho come from what hunters call the bread basket of ducks — Alberta and parts of British Columbia.
Canada and the prairie states of the U.S. are breeding grounds for ducks and geese that end up flying south every fall.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that there were 48.6 million breeding ducks in those areas. That’s a lot of ducks, and some of them fly the skies of Idaho.
While floating the Snake River recently, it was good to hear the whistle of wigeons, drawl of hen mallards and honking of geese.
Then there were the flocks of snow geese.
Some days the skies are filled with large groups of waterfowl, and other days you wonder where they went.
But if you catch a day when the ducks and geese are on the move, it’s pretty impressive, even if you’re not a hunter.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors
Statesman outdoor writer Pete Zimowsky writes a column every other Sunday in Life and every Thursday in Idaho Outdoors.