A visit to Botany Pond by Greg Mayer

October 10, 2022 • 11:00 am

by Greg Mayer

I paid a visit to Botany Pond last Friday (7 October). It had rained much of the day before I got to Hyde Park in mid-afternoon, but the sun had started to come out and there was more going on than I thought there would be. The water was high– covering the “ring” islands next to the cypress islands– perhaps from the recent rain.

A sunny corner of Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

First, quite a few mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were there.

Mallards in Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

There were 22 of them, evenly divided between hens and drakes, though I think the exact equality was coincidental. There did seem to be some male/female pairs, but not all had a match.

A mallard hen and drake at Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

Most of the drakes seemed to be in full nuptial plumage, such as the following fellow,

Mallard drake in nuptial plumage at Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

but a couple had either not yet completed the fall molt, or were just weird.

Mallard drake with the sides of its head brownish at Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

Members of Team Duck arrived a bit after I did, and they confirmed that while some matched pairs were present among the ducks, a number were not in a committed relationship.

Team Duck in action at Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

Several of the named ducks were present, including Honey, Bernie, Billy, Ginger, and Gooseduck. I tried to take a picture of Honey, but they were moving around quite a bit. I’m not sure if this is her; the triangular spot at the base of the bill doesn’t seem quite right, but Jerry should be able to tell one way or the other.

[JAC: This is not Honey.]

Maybe Honey? Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

I had gone to Botany Pond with a particular interest in the turtles there, which include two subspecies of slider, the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). The latter is represented by a single individual, not seen on this visit. Despite the rain having stopped not long before, there was one very active large male that came out on to the rock “beach” to sun for a bit. He was in and out of the water a few times.

Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) at Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

This male was very dark. In the water, though, you could see more of his shell coloration, as well as the long front ‘nails’ and long, thick tail that identify his sex.

Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) in Botany Pond, University of Chicago, 7 October 2022.

There was a second large male red-ear in the water, but he did not come out, and I did not get a picture of that second turtle; he was much greener.

8 thoughts on “A visit to Botany Pond by Greg Mayer

  1. Twenty-two. I think maybe UC needs to expand the Botany Pond. Why not repeat history; the football field doesn’t seem useful.

  2. Maybe the large duck gathering could be bc the pond is now an attractive lay-over for ducks who are fattening up for their migration. Among them could be former brood of Honey et al.

  3. … they confirmed that while some matched pairs were present among the ducks, a number were not in a committed relationship.

    Promiscuous libertines?

  4. When I saw the header, I thought Greg might have been sizing up the logistics of removing the turtles before the renovation. Not hinting, I just assumed because he’s a herpetologist. đŸ™‚

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