nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘male mallards

‘Ducks’ Ditty’

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On Saturday we took a drive along the St. John River, to see if any waterfowl were braving the cold windy day.  The water is slowly receeding but still above summer levels.  On a miserable day, the ducks retreat to the shallows, away from the exposure of the open water.

There were a few birds on the water.  We stopped for a while to watch five male Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) paddling about.  They stuck together as a group, feeding in the shallows and occasionally ‘standing’ on the water to flap their wings.   This time of year, the female Mallards are on the nest, hatching their young, and the males typically hang out in groups with other males until moulting begins.

I am not good at duck identification, but the Mallard is easy to spot, with its bright green head and the white ring around its neck.  I enjoyed watching them through the binoculars, especially their orange legs and feet maneouvering in the muddy water.

The Mallard is a member of the marsh duck family and a ‘dabbler’.  Dabblers obtain their food by skimming it from the surface or tipping up to submerge their heads so they can feed underwater.

I can never watch dabblers on the water without thinking of Kenneth Grahame’s famous poem ‘Ducks’ Ditty’, from the book The Wind in the Willows.  If you don’t have a copy of the book, have a look at the poem at http://www.literaturepage.com/read/windinthewillows-14.html

©  Jane Tims 2012

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