Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Twelve Ducks

I wrote about two ducks awhile ago, a pair of mallards that were checking out our pond. In the end, a pair of wood ducks nested on the edge of the pond. They had eleven ducklings (I thought there were nine, but my photo clearly shows eleven), and the tiny creatures could be seen with their mother, sitting on an anchored log in the pond. What I liked best was the way the ducks would share the log with a turtle. The turtle jumps off as soon as I get near the dock, and the ducks didn't even let me get that close. It was impossible to get a reasonable picture of them. One day I was rowing on the pond and got to close to the nest-- and they all scrambled across the pond and into the tall grass. On that extremely windy day, I saw them huddled together at the side of the house, but when I cracked the door to get a picture, off they went. I did get this picture that day before they could get into the grass, and luckily it enlarged nicely. It's hard to explain how small they were, but they couldn't get over a drainage hose by the pond. I got the picture because the mother duck went over the hose and the ducklings had to go around, buying me some time.

There was reason for worry, of course. In the past few days I've noticed there are only eight ducklings (I'm questioning my eyesight-- but they're big enough to count, now!). For awhile it seemed the mother disappeared, and twice I saw just the eight ducklings in the pond. And once we saw all eight of them, so close together they must have looked to a hawk riding a thermal like a single, bigger animal, moving down from the little pond to the big pond. Were they picked off one by one? When I saw the mass of them moving, weren't there still nine?
Where was their mother? Was she looking for the three lost ducklings? Tending to a wounded duckling? Mourning? When she reappeared, I swear, I saw her sitting at one end of the log with a big gap between her and a few of the ducklings, while the others swam nearby.

Now they're goodsized, but still ducklings. And there are eight, the mother makes nine.

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