Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Visit 11: May 18, 2010, 4:30 pm

--Saw three people on southeast pond bank with ducklings. We knew these weren't the ducklings we'd been watching as they were considerably bigger, so we asked about them. The people had brought them to the pond to release them. A mother mallard had nested at their place of business and hatched 14 ducklings. Of those, seven survived. The woman who took care of the mother and ducklings said that one day they were crossing the road near her business and a speeding motorist killed the mother. Of the remaining seven, these four survived. Banyan and I are curious and didn't understand, however, why one of the four is a Muscovy.
--One of the three people releasing the ducklings asked me, after learning that we visit the pond often, if the alligator warning signs were legitimate. I told him I had never seen an alligator in the pond, and no sooner had the words left my mouth did we spot one. This photograph doesn't show his(?) size well, but I'd estimate he's probably 3 feet or so, a young gator.
--As we were watching the gator, we saw the mother duck and her ducklings in the same spot we had seen them on Saturday, the northwest pond bank. We quickly made our way to their resting spot just as they were entering the pond.
--Sadly, we noticed immediately that there are now only four ducklings. We couldn't definitively tell if the duckling with the hurt leg was the one missing. Banyan hypothesized that it was.
--We also noticed that the mother duck seemed to be favoring her right side. Not sure if her wing or her leg is injured.
--The mother duck and now four ducklings began to cross the pond and were heading directly toward the alligator. I was unable to photograph their VERY close encounter, but mama came within a few feet of the gator, and then realized the impending danger and took off, as Banyan said "like Hot Wheels," toward the east pond bank.
--We walked back over to the southwest pond bank to report our findings to the three people releasing the four new ducklings, who look to be a few weeks older than the ones we've been following (they are beginning to get adult feathers).
--We were able to see imprinting in action as the woman who had cared for the ducklings tried to release them and was followed.
--She asked her friend to help chase them toward the water while she quickly left the park. It worked, and when we left the pond, there were two groups each of four ducklings on the eastern pond bank, about twenty yards apart from each other, seemingly unaware of each other's presence.
--Banyan and I wondered if the alligator had anything to do with the mother duck's injury or disappearance of the fifth duckling. We also wondered if there was a mother alligator nearby, as this alligator was still very young.

No comments:

Post a Comment