May and June are some the best months to enjoy sitting on the dock, work in the yard and view the wildlife. The first two because of pleasant temperatures, freshness of blooms and new plantings, the second because it is baby boomin time in nature and there are all sorts of birds feeding their fledglings, circling the feeders, small bunnies only noticed by two ears sticking above grassy spires, migrating ducks: Shovelers, Teals, Wood Ducks, Ringnecks and my constant companions, the Mallards.
I never paid that much attention to Mallards as they had always been such a common feature at any city lake, rural pond or creek on any occasional outing I took. But at Green Heron Pond they are year round residents- at least some are- others migrate through, stopping for a few days of respite. And I feed any that are here: “scratch” two times a day, everyday. This gives me an up close view and familiarity with the Mallards; their personalities, moods and physical changes.
Now as I said usually May and June are great months being out by the pond but this year with the too frequent rains, it seems nature has sped up a bit and the early onset of skeeters, infamous cottonwood fuzz (usually not seen til mid July) and Mallard molting season have distorted my idyllic scene… All my potted plants on the deck and dock look like scenes from the old William Shatner movie Kingdom of the Spiders, as all are covered and coated with fine, fuzzy tufts of cottonwood fuzz and seeds…. Then there are the molting Mallards looking like pale cotton candy balls with orange legs, preening themselves along the pond’s shoreline- Kansas winds taking to flight the fragile feathers – distributing them everywhere in the yard…. and they get stuck in the cottonwood fuzz on shrubs, flowers, chairs, deck. On. Everything.
When molting season arrives the ducks not only look ragged, they seem tired, listless but I guess that could be due to the previous plumage season…breeding season- when the drakes sported their brilliant emerald head feathers, chocolate brown chests and the curling fancy tail feathers- Drake Dandies on the lawn chasing every available female…. But as they have been molting there have been two clutches of ducklings appear on the pond, one brood born April 27th and a new freshly hatched clutch- on the water just today. Bobbing around, tiny dark fluffs of feathers, they are already eating cottonwood fuzz stuck on the pond shoreline.
My curiosity and joy for the summer season is refreshed by these newcomers to the pond. I will eagerly wait- to see them grow, eat “scratch” with Mom close by and see them flap their wings as they gain strength to fly. Welcome little Ducklings! And July and August, I am looking forward to you!