Yesterday I finished up all my bike riding in May with what I call my “10K Loop” route, a 6.2-mile circle that goes up Sunset Boulevard to Griffith Park Drive to Hyperion up and over the Viaduct to the L.A. River to Fletcher Avenue to Glendale Boulevard to Silver Lake Boulevard to Parkman Avenue to Sunset to home.

Pedaling slowly south along the undeveloped east bank of the river between Red Car Park and the Fletcher Bridge, I saw two amazing things I’d never seen before: 1) a battle brought by a tiny red-winged blackbird to a mighty great blue heron, and 2) a red duck.

Now I’m not sure what angered the miniscule blackbird — maybe the hunting heron was getting too close perhaps to the blackie’s nest in the tall arundo reeds. But that little fella took it to the heron with a full-contact dive-bombing assault. I’m not talking about just flitting around and zooming in only to pull up and avoid touching at that last moment.  It would barrel headlong into the big bird’s side, sometimes coming in for a landing and pecking the heck out of its back and wings before releasing to zoom noisily around some more.

The heron could barely could be bothered — even when the blackie would grab feetfulls of its feathers and have at it. But it did eventually fly off downstream with the blackbird in close pursuit. After touching down and then flying off to a second landing spot the blackbird finally retreated and the heron immediately went stalking the surrounding waters for prey.

And that’s when I saw the red duck. Seriously, its body and head were rusty red and its wings were dark with centers that were white. I don’t know if my presence made it nervous, but it didn’t wait around before getting airborne and moving a safe distance upstream away from me.

Turns out it was a cinnamon teal.

The things you see when you stop and look.