We have a way we like to walk, especially on days when we have a little more time. Weekend mornings, some late evenings, catching sunsets or the morning dew as we go. Sometimes my middle son is along, and we have the chitter chatter of sharing observations. Sometimes it is just me and the dogs, with the jingle of their collars and their panting as the accompanying sounds. Most days we hear mockingbirds and doves, sometimes starlings or grackels. There has been an unexpected treat or two, like the belted kingfisher I saw last winter, or maybe a roseatte spoonbill, herons, egrets, or cormorants fishing along the little bayou that runs next to the path, or at the “other pond” across the street from this view here below.
Mostly there are ducks, though, and lots of them. As we walk, we are observing the world around us, with all the duck drama that unfolds.Usually, this little pocket park featured above and below, usually our second stop along the walk, has a few Muscovy ducks. However, it is also the spot where the misfits hang out, the outcasts, the ducks that don’t fit in.
Seen in the picture above is the current group of little duck rebels. The two white ducks on the end, and potentially all of these, are domestic ducks that were most likely dumped at the park at some point, perhaps turned loose when they weren’t cute enough for Easter pets anymore. The kids and I call the white ducks our “little friends”, as in “do you see our little friends today?” or “how are our little friends doing?”. The two middle ducks in this row are two Mallard females who used to live at the upper pond with their mates, until the drakes disappeared one by one – to predation or accident, I am not sure. The lighter duck in front was also one of a pair, kind of unusual blonde looking ducks, similar to the white ones but with sort of an apricot tinge. They showed up one day when they were babies and grew up at the pond over the past year, but now one of them is missing as well. The dark duck at the front is a new one.
The highlight of the walk is the first pond we come to, the great glorious duck pond. This pond is able to support a huge flock of muscovies, many who have hatchlings during the course of the year. The following pictures show the newest group of ducklings and their proud mama. These ducklings haven’t learned to be afraid yet. My dogs were sitting just a few feet away during these pictures, and the ducklings ran practically right up to them and probably would not have stopped except Scout started barking at them.
These ducks are fed by many, but fed correctly at least by one person, or perhaps the community organization. We have seen duck food spread around the trees where they like to roost during the hot parts of the day. Perhaps because of this boon, the flock has increased in size. It usually has 30-35 members present when we show up to sit a while and take a census, marveling at the new babies. However, today there was a surprising high of 53 ducks total at the pond. I am curious if communities feel like having a duck pond is a positive feature for their neighborhood, and if they try to encourage ducks to come and stay, or if they wish the ducks would just go away already. I wonder why the ducks picked this pond to live at, and not the two or three others further up which only have a handful of ducks. The furthest north of the ponds, up where Gaston hits Fry Road, is bigger than this pond and even has a couple of duck decoys in the pond, presumably to draw ducks to it, but no live ducks ever stay. Do the decoys scare them off? Is there something unique about the water or availability of food here at this pond, or do the ducks stay simply because there is food that appears sometimes here, and if the food moved to the other ponds, would the ducks move, too?
At any rate, it is intriguing and somewhat relaxing to stop by the pond and see what is new today, what has changed, sometimes to feed the ducks or just sit a spell and listen to the water fountain.