Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Unlikely Find in an Urban Park: Part Two

Here is the boat house at the Victoria Park lake. At one time you could rent a canoe or paddle boat by the hour at the dock. Over the past three quarters of a century or more the park has attracted large numbers of people on weekends and evenings. In the winter there used to be skating and the boat house was used for warming up cold fingers and toes or to sit and drink a cup of hot cocoa. But the boats are gone and most recent winters have been too mild for skating.

Groups of people still meet here, many of them recent immigrants to Canada. These men of African origin gather in the evening to play a game on the picnic tables. Near the boat house Mallard ducks approach people on the bank and look for free food scraps. There are signs asking visitors not to feed the birds, but there are always a few who do so regardless.

This is the first male Mallard I have noticed this season with new green head feathers. I used to wonder where all the male ducks went in the summer time until I learned that they lose their bright colours after breeding and do not gain them again until September. I was watching the Mallards as a small boy threw cracker pieces into the water when a smaller duck with an unusual swimming stroke approached.

A male Wood Duck, also coming into his breeding plumage, started scrapping with the Mallards for his share of the food. I have never been close to a Wood Duck and have found them to be very skittish at the swamp. I saw the Wood Duck around the boat house three days in a row on the weekend and it looks as if he has made his home here for now with a group of Mallards.

I hope he stays around until his plumage is fully eclipsed. Right now he hardly stands out in the crowd from a distance. You can bet I will be hanging around the boat house more often in the next few weeks.


  1. Wow! That male Wood Duck's back feathers very beautiful!

  2. I love your photos. They are very beautiful and evocative

  3. Beautiful photos of a lovely place Ruth. Hope you get to see him in all his splendor.

  4. I've yet to get up close and personal with a wood duck! Lucky you! I still hope.

  5. Beautiful. Do hang around for us.

  6. I just watched your video of the monarch caterpillar turn to a chrysalis, I watched one ours a couple days ago do the same. Wonderous, amazing isn't it!! We have 11 babes in our monarch nursery. We plant our garden with various milkweed plants and other host plants for the beautiful butterflies. We too hate to see the county, state and city mowers come and mow down the milkweed just when the weeds are needed most. Keep up the great work. Love your blog.

  7. How nice to see a wood duck up close. I hope he stays around too as I think they are the most beautiful duck..

  8. Gosh, Ruth, they are so beautiful up close.

  9. Birdman- Maybe we could look for it sometime in September. His feathers should be fully in by the middle of the month.

    Yolanda- Thanks for visiting and commenting. I enjoyed browsing through your blog too.

    Jayne- If I see him in his full splendor, you can be sure I will post his picture ;-)

    CS- Maybe one will drop by when you are on the lake. For a bird that is supposed to be fairly common, I rarely see them.

    NCMW- I do think it is the most handsome duck we have here.

    Jules and Ken- Thanks for visiting and commenting. I enjoyed your monarch posts and your blog in general.

    RW- This one is ridiculously tame and thinks it is a mallard. I do hope it finds more of its kind (after I see it in full breeding plumage)

    Jean- The colours are brilliant for sure!

  10. I've never seen a wood duck in the wild that close. Good for you Ruth! They're such gorgeous birds.


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