A farewell to ducks

I still have videos and photos of ducks to post over the winter, but our strategy of cutting down and then terminating the feeding has worked: all the invading ducks have left the pond, and all left healthy and plump. I hope that Honey, who left about two weeks ago, is doing well and on her way to warmer climes. The pond is bereft of waterfowl now.

Here are some farewell duck pictures, and photos of Botany Pond in fall.

A week ago, before the ducks left, we had about two dozen ducks or more, and we frequently observed them on “Duck Alert”: they’d all go quiet, stop eating, quack a bit, and leave the water for the bank, most looking in one direction. I don’t know why they did this: one would suppose a predator or intruder was around—but we never saw anything. They are sensitive creatures, alert to any alteration in their environment. So, without being able to give a cause, here’s a video of a duck alert that occurred on November 1.

As fall proceeds, the leaves of the big gingko start turning yellow,  while a few ducks paddle idly in the water:

The water reflected the leaves above:

. . . and the colors of fall rimmed the pond:

Feeding was cut down to once a day, then once every other day, then bupkes. Here’s a feeding of cracked corn on the bank. The ducks surround the piles like feathery petals on a flower:

I especially love the hens because they produce ducklings, and have a hard life incubating and tending the young. And yet they are such good moms! Here are some moms-to-be come Spring:

Finally we were down to a handful of drakes and hens. And then there were none.

One of the few hens remaining before they all left (this isn’t Honey, though at first I thought it was):

And resplendent drakes in breeding color:

It was quite a season! Designing a trampoline for Honey and her brood, along with new duck fences, duck signs, and duckling ramps (big kudos to U of C Facilities): helping Honey lead her brood to the Pond; seeing Dorothy produce a brood and Honey and Dorothy battle over them, with Honey winning, nabbing a total of 17 ducklings (all fledged); Dorothy re-nesting and producing a second brood of seven of her very own (of which six fledged); kids trying to steal turtles; a woman trying to dump domestic ducks into the pond; me having to rescue a brood of seven (rehabbed) and then two singletons dumped in the pond (rehabbed); and Team Duck having to deal with (and feed) up to sixty pensioner ducks in a late-season invasion.

It was a stressful duck season, but we lost almost no babies, and, to tell the truth, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Thanks to the faithful members of Team Duck who helped us fledge a crop of 23 babies this year. And cross your fingers that Honey will return next Spring!

Photo by Jean Greenberg


23 thoughts on “A farewell to ducks

    1. After you, Dom! My sister and I once hitchhiked from Kent to Leicester both dressed as chickens, but I believe there aren’t any photos. The anecdote about being searched by the police on the way home is too long for WEIT though…

  1. Yes, it’s certainly been eventful (there was also the new web cam). Fingers crossed for 2021 – and 2020 was better for ducks than it was for humans.

  2. What a duck season. I would so love to think a child’s book could come out of this. So much ducky drama, practically all good outcomes and importantly showing that humans can do kind and interesting things being a part of nature.

    Enjoyed the photos and will use the “The water reflected the leaves above” for my desk top for a while. Like the recent photo of PCC wearing his mask beside the don’ feed ducks sign.

    Take care everyone.

  3. Finally we were down to a handful of drakes and hens. And then there were none.

    That’s nearly as heartrending an ending to “A Farewell to Ducks” as Frederic leaving the hospital after the death of Catherine and walking back to the hotel, alone, in the rain, at the end of A Farewell to Arms.

  4. I love the Ginkgo biloba the swamp cypress in their autumn foliage! We have a large swamp cypress in Adelaide Botanic Garden, and many visitors get upset when it turns colour since they think that it is dying…. Also a number of ginkgos but all rather small; nothing like your wonderful specimen.

    1. Yep, that’s quite an impressive tree. Can’t tell from the photo whether it is male or female.
      Around here we have a few female trees and you always have to take care to not tread on the ‘fruits’ as they smell like dog feces.

        1. Such beautiful photos. My Latin teacher at College had a dim view of economics as an academic pursuit, so on his retirement his parting gift was a female Gingko, which he planted outside the windows of the Economics department! 50 years later it has become fully offensive, much to the chagrin of the current economists. The chemists tell us the smell is very similar, chemically, to that which graces some blue cheeses.

        2. Indeed, it’s a female tree. Just had a closer look at the photo and I think one can see a few branches still bearing fruit.

  5. A big well done to duck dad and team duck including the great u of c facilities folks and president zimmer for his support. I enjoyed watching the pond environs turn lush green as summer came and now are spectaular in fall. The pond cam was really a nice innovation allowing us to share visuals of ducks, humans, and with seeing the weather…really a 4D experience.

  6. I enjoyed watching the pond-cam and reading about the duck families. For me, the late-night herons caused the most worry and drama! (I don’t remember the turtle-stealing incident.)

  7. What a delightful, yet bittersweet ,recap — a glorious site — almost reason on it’s own to apply to U of C. Looking forward to spring.

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