Monday, June 18, 2007

Feathered Friends Flock Together

One of the best things about living in Switzerland is the many lakes dotted around the country between mountains and hills. On a calm day, the surrounding highlands, some snow-capped for most of the year, are reflected in the water, which can range from an aquamarine green to turquoise. On a windy day, the waves can make even a fish chuck up.

One of the best things about living near a lake is the presence of many water birds. My favourites are the ducks, swans and 'bonneted divers' Great Crested Grebe (these have long necks and a sort of bonnet structure around their heads; they dive expertly for fish). Lake gulls and Eurasian coots (black with white beaks) are more common and less enchanting to watch, unless they're accompanied by their young.

'Hi there. Any more bread in your pockets?' One of the cute, not yet all-white, teenage swans gives me its best hungry and enquiring look.

I mistook this Carolina duck for a Mandarin duck, so I said 'ni hau?' to him every time I saw him. His modus operandi is to take a small piece of bread from the grass and dive onto the lake to eat it. Timid, sweet, very low in the pecking order, gets chased by mallards and coots.

Meet Mr & Mrs Mallard. She's always ravenous (maybe because she lays the eggs) and her man often gives in to her as far as getting eats is concerned. In this picture, she's nearer my feet than Mr Mallard -- as usual.

Mr Duck strikes his handsomest pose (below).

In the last photo, a Eurasian Coot swims by an adult swan. The bossier swans often try to prevent the blur teenage swans from getting near me (i.e. the food) but I try my best to throw bread to the skinnier ones on the periphery. Gotta fight that 'survival of the fittest or most beautiful' thing.

Two of the oft-bullied teenage swans have very skinny necks, one of which has something like a tumour growing from one side (I hope it's NOT a tumour though). The one without the 'tumour' is very slow in catching bread -- even the ducks get the better of it, so your timing must be pretty good and your throwing skilful to feed this blur-as-sotong fellow.


gRaCe said...

Ahh...finally, i get to 'meet' Mr & Mrs Mallard. Heheh.. What bout Scarface? got pics of him?

Argus Lou said...

Hiya, Spiffy. For a minute there, I thought no one would read my Bird Story. Ha ha.

No, lah, no pic of Scarface. He's tricky and cunning. The moment he gets a piece of bread, he goes far away to eat it. He looks just like Mr Duck except the front half of his face is missing the green 'feathers' and looks dark brown.

Lee Ping said...

If you hadn't told me, I could not have known which is the male and which is the female.

I guess if they spend time together and Mrs. Mallard lays the eggs, she must be the female.

In a couple of ways, my hubby is like Mr. Mallard, handsome and allows me to pick restaurants for dinner.

WokandSpoon said...

Hi Argus, I saw your comments on LeePing's blog about roti canai. Like you, I always crave roti canai as well! I've just posted a recipe on my blog. Have fun!

Kenny Mah said...

I love your labels --- "fowl language" and "Faustian fowl"?

But what exactly is "fiddle faddle"? ;)

Argus Lou said...

Hi, MrsHBT. You're funny indeed. Would your hubby enjoy being likened to Mr Drake Mallard?

Dear Wok&Spoon, welcome to ArgusWorld! Will check out your recipe a.s.a.p. If we make roti canai, we'll hafta make dhal curry, too. Mmm...

Hi, Kenny. Thanks, glad you enjoy them. I just made up Fiddle Faddle -- it's like 'membebel', I guess. ^_^

Lee Ping said...

"Would your hubby enjoy being being likened to Mr Drake Mallard?"

He knows that I consider him handsome. But, he probably would not like to be compared to a male duck!

gRaCe said...

Of cuz we'll read! Any story from u is good story...=D

Hahah...maybe u shud ask ur partner to quickly take pics of him when ur feeding him..;o)

Argus Lou said...

MrsHBT, your husband is lucky indeed! Well, if he knows it's a 'handsome duck', he might quite like it. Heh heh.

Spiffy, the other day, I had a better look at the armada of green-headed ducks (Mallards) and noticed that at least 3 of the males look like Scarface. What do they DO? Fight and 'face off'?! :-D

melody said...

fiddle faddle are those popcorn things AMC likes, remember? we'd buy the ones with nuts and offer them to bv... muahahahaha.

anyways, aren't ducks and geese smelly? they scare me.

perhaps you should tell them mallards that once you bought a goose-down pillow and didn't like them cause they were stinky. or was that someone else?...

oh, were those really chive flowers? they look like the flowers of that plant, the pokok semalu or whatever you call it. the ones where the leaves close whenever you touch them.

or maybe they just didn't like me.

is there duck hunting season there? *grinning an evil grin*

I'm guessing you throw pieces of your leftover homemade breads at the ducks then eh?

Argus Lou said...

Hiya, Melody. I didn't know those sweet fancy popcorn thingies were called Fiddle Faddle. Thought they were Bliss Bombs. (If bv read this, she'd stare daggers and scimitars at you; be careful.)

No, the swans and ducks are odourless. Yeah, I had a goose-down pillow and, yeah, it was smelly. So far - only recently - we've seen 3 brown wild geese from afar. Just as well they don't as yet come near me... I called out insanely to them: "Are you R-goose? Or J-goose?"

Yes, those are chives flowers, I swear. The pemalu (mimosa) ones are light pink and more delicate.

The bread we throw are mainly leftovers from parties. The bread I bake, mostly we finish every crumb. Unless I pretend I can't eat the last bit -- and save it for the swans.

No, no duck hunting season here, thank heavens. (Although we've often fantasised about fat ol' Mr Mallard in our oven wafting a nice ducky aroma, heh heh.)

melody said...

oh, last time i had to clear a story about ducks and stuff so i searched for duck terms and found this:

brace of ducks
flock of ducks
flush of ducks
paddling of ducks
raft of ducks
team of ducks

* Here, it depends on where the ducks are, so Flush, Team, (diving) dopping, (in flight) team, plump, (on water) Paddling' (brood) Flush, (pair) Brace*

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Mel, that was invaluable information.

I only used 'an armada of ducks' coz when they swim in a big flock towards someone they think is giving food, they look like well-spaced-out ships or ferries on the water. Especially when they're all the same species (green heads!), they look like the smart battleships of Queen Isabella of Spain.

gRaCe said...

At least 3 that looks like Scarface huh? How do u differenciate them then?

Argus Lou said...

Cannot, Spiffy. I'm all confused. Maybe the 'amount' of feathery down missing. Heh.

gRaCe said...

Hahaha..nvm, next time if got chance faster snap a pic of scarface. Heheh...;o)

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)