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:
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!