Monday, August 13, 2007
Where Art Thou, Small Duck?
About a month ago, my other half and I began noticing a extra-small duck -- probably a Common Pochard (Tafelente in German) -- in Zugerlakeside, Cham. The tail was curtailed, so to speak, and its neck very short and curved. Its bill though was longish and slightly upturned.
Being very energetic and resourceful -- to make up for its size perhaps -- Small Duck caught our attention and charmed us with the way it caught bread pieces and avoided Eurasian coots and mallards by diving under them or hopping over them.
We singled out Small Duck and a sole Carolina Wood duck (yes, that sweet timid fellow) to feed our few leftover bread pieces to. Some people came by with a biggish bag of bread and in the feeding frenzy, Small Duck seldom got a crumb because it was a bit wary of joining the quite violent fray among the swans, coots, mallards and lake gulls.
Small Duck would charm us by paddling furiously towards us whenever we stood by the shore to hurl bread chunks to it. With its relatively big webbed feet, it could manoeuvre its small body very artfully and make sudden turns to gain some space around it. Small Duck knew it needed that advantage to beat the coots and mallards to the bread.
(Right) Small Duck (possibly a Ferruginous) surrounded by Eurasian coots.
In the past few days, after it rained a lot for almost the whole day and night, the lake overflowed at certain places and poured strongly into the river in our small town. We no longer saw Small Duck in the evenings when we took our walks there. This morning, neither did I see it on the lake. I'm worried Small Duck might have been swept upstream into the river.
(Right) The Carolina Wood Duck in spring. It has now a shorter, snazzier 'haircut'.
Wherever Small Duck is, I hope Mother Nature is looking out for it -- in that it is safe and healthy and has enough to eat. Small Duck has stolen our hearts and it is sad not to see him or her anymore.
Below are some portraits I took of my favourite teenage Mute swans. Swan yoga, anyone?
(Above) Can you see light passing through the 'nostrils'?
(Above) This teen pen (female swan) gives a comical front view of her mug -- does it somehow remind you of the front view of an aeroplane?
Update (Aug 19, evening): We were throwing a few pieces of stale bread to the Carolina Wood Duck and the 'Dazy' swans (the three young pens often seem to be in a daze, or 'blur') when I spotted a familiar silhouette backlighted by the evening sun -- curved bill and small body with a short tail. Yes! Small Duck is back on the lake at Villette Park in Cham. Yahoo! She is safe and slightly bigger, at one point raising her small brown body and flapping her tiny wings. We are overjoyed to see her again.