We did hear the cries of a few loons — a disconcerting sound if you’re not used to it — and early one morning I saw a flock of ducks land on the water near the island, do some quick diving for grub, and then get into formation and sail regally into the distance.
This summer, two swans and more than a dozen ducks call the pond at No. 5 North home. They always approach when walkers tromp along the boardwalk, in hopes that the passersby might toss some bread crumbs into the water.
Yesterday, as Kish, Penny, Kasey, and I strolled past, the swans and the ducks had spotted a family at the other end of the boardwalk and were making a beeline in their direction, with the regal swan in the lead.
I should add that, as I walked along the Scioto Mile to the Columbus Arts Festival this morning, I ran across a mother duck who apparently had wandered out of the river with her ducklings. She was fiercely protective of them — particularly when a dog trotted by — and tried to shield then behind a fence as I walked by.
There is a new brace of ducklings — six in all — in the pond on number 5 North. They were on the boardwalk as we approached on Saturday. The sight of the dogs caused their mother to herd them, waddling all the way, to the edge of the planks, where they leaped into the water and paddled briskly away.
It’s been very cold here recently, and on this morning’s walk Penny and I saw that the pond at no. 5 North is now covered with a sheet of ice — one strong enough to support the weight of a pair of waddling Canadian geese. The remaining ducks were huddled in the lone, rapidly shrinking unfrozen section, doing their best to stay warm on a frosty morning.
The earthbound ducks that patrol our neighborhood have had a successful summer. A brood of ducklings was successfully hatched and reared, and our brace of ducks (as opposed to a gaggle of geese, a clutch of chickens, or a covey of quail) now numbers eight individuals.
According to our neighbors, the ducks spend the night in a shallow depression behind a nearby home. When morning comes, they are on the prowl, looking for food. When I see their little band on my morning walk, they quack quietly, making a comical noise that sounds like the duck equivalent of the background murmurs of an expectant crowd before a performance.
Whatever the ducks have been doing, it seems to be agreeing with them, as they have fattened up considerably. Will these ducks head south for the winter? If so, will they get off their considerable feathered duffs and fly, or will they just waddle into the sunset, quacking all the while?
We’ve had a strange development in the neighborhood lately. A small flock of ducks — seven or eight of them — has established a home base somewhere in the North of Woods area. You see them in odd places at odd times doing curious things.
On this morning’s walk, Penny and I first saw the ducks in the street, nosing their beaks through leaves and debris in the gutters. By the time we ended our circuit of the Yantis Loop, they had moved to the other side of the neighborhood and were plopped down in a neighbor’s flower bed. As we passed by they got up and began waddling around, heading for some other destination.
Why are they here? Who knows? Perhaps they were on the losing side of some kind of titanic aquatic power struggle at the pond on 5 North, where they unwisely sided with the Canadian geese rather than getting in league with the powerful swans. Or maybe they are exceptionally stupid ducks who think the asphalt ring of our cul-de-sac is just very hard water. Whatever the reason, it is weird having them around — but it makes the neighborhood a more interesting place.