Duck report: Lonely James is still here

As I’m leaving for Croatia tomorrow, Anna (who’s also leaving in a few days) and then Sanja will be on Duck Duty, assuming that lovelorn Frank remains in Botany Pond. I haven’t yet checked to see if he’s there this morning, but I hope he leaves soon and joins the others on their imminent Great Migration.

Until that happens, we will take care of the handsome James Pond. I am still upset at how he was abandoned by Honey for another drake, and in a matter of a minute—after a vicious duck fight on October 5 in which Billzebub soundly defeated James, with Honey inciting them on with frantic quacking. (She would do that to determine who’s the most aggressive duck!).

Here are some photos taken in the last couple days. First, here’s the grate through which Billzebub flew and then got trapped after I squirted him with my Super Soaker. I saved his life, only to see him abscond with Honey. But I had no choice. Billzebub flew underneath the bars and then got trapped; I had to carefully grab him through the lower gap, pin his wings against his body, and then extricate his head from the well. I then gently squeezed his body through the lower gap, and let him go; he appeared completely unfazed. He then took off with Honey.

I have no idea how Billzebub managed to fly through the gap beneath the bars so quickly. He just headed for that window and was in within a second. Perhaps ducks are part liquid:

Photo by Anna

James, as he is every morning, standing on the cement ring and waiting for Honey:

In the afternoon he snoozes on the island, still looking out:

My handsome drake as I’ll always remember him. He was too kind to be a reproductively successful duck!

Two of James’s outstanding traits, beyond his kindness, were his ability to swim backwards and his vigorous and adorable twerking, when he shook his butt repeatedly and rapidly. That’s shown in the video below:

Perhaps a reader who knows about duck behavior can explain this constant tail-shaking. One theory, which is mine, is that it recharges the glands in the butt that provide oil for the duck’s feathers.

James groomed and twerked simultaneously; here are some photos taken in succession (they’re blurry because he was moving and the shutter speed was low):

Another video of James preening and twerking, taken yesterday.

We mustn’t forget the turtles, though Anna likes them (and the crayfish) more than I do. Here are some shots of the red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) who have, as it’s gotten colder, increasingly taken to basking. It’s turtles all the way down!

A whole gang of them! Some take advantage of the cypress knees to prop themselves up to gain more sun.

A turtle examines James:


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Think it’s time to put the big speakers in the office windows, boss, and blast out this blue-eyed soul torch song for poor Jimmy:

    The lyric “I’d pay the devil to replace her” seems especially apropos.

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of this from Etheridge Knight–

      Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split
      and I with no way to make her
      come back and everywhere the world is bare
      bright bone white crystal sand glistens
      dope death dead dying and jiving drove
      her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
      and her softness and her midnight sighs—

      Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky
      fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds
      and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth
      fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and
      democracy and communism fuck smack and pot
      and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck
      god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon
      and malcolm fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck
      the whole muthafucking thing
      all i want now is my woman back
      so my soul can sing

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Serious issues if the lovelorn one gives up on Chasin’ the ‘trane! Great poem. Thank you.

  2. Mike
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Poor old James, Honey sounds like a flighty piece of work(no pun intended),He’ll more than likely meet up with a more homespun Duck, who dislikes the livelier life, and wants to stay at home and embroider Samplers and the like. As for that Railing, how the hell did it get thriugh that.?

    • Mike
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink


    • Diane G
      Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      Re railing–my thought exactly!

  3. rickflick
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Perhaps James is simply young and inexperienced. If he’s still around next season he might rise to the occasion.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      I agree – he’ll be a more pond wise, swaggering, twerking drake in 2019. Confident & full of duckitude as he strides down the pavement with his cans of paint & the perfectly coiffured tail lick.

  4. Sharon
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I just visited poor James this morning. He looked so sad! Aren’t there any single ducks out there for him to love?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Tinder for ducks — sounds like you’ve got an idea for a new start-up. 🙂

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      There are if he’d get out of the pond and head to the staging area where the other ducks are. But he’s still waiting for Honey, I think, and it’s ineffably sad. She’s just not coming back.

      I kind of hope he’ll leave when I’m gone next week.

  5. Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Did you ever consider that the problem might be James’ last name? A lady that wants to migrate can’t be hanging with no guy named “Pond”!

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      But he has a license to bill! That should make most duck hens come ‘a waddlin’.

  6. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I see that what’s called “twerking” I know as booty dancing, and I prefer that appellation as it’s very clear and direct.

    Whatever one calls the behavior,if one subscribes to the “cryptoglandular theory” of anal fistula, perhaps booty dancing might be prescribed to those in danger of developing anal infections and anal fistulae as a way of clearing the ducts of detritus.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      “clear and direct” and properly funky.

    • Christopher
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      That certainty alters my view of Miley Cyrus. 🤢 (not much though, she always made me feel a bit queasy)

    • Diane G
      Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      Only on a science blog…(er, website)…


  7. Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What are the chances that the seemingly intrusive drakes were Frank or a couple of Honey’s sons? It’s not too far-fetching, since they KNOW there’re grubs to be had at this outdoor/poolside bistro.

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I mean ‘far-fetched’….

      • Diane G
        Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:53 am | Permalink

        Though I’m sure her sons are quite fetching…

        Interesting thought!

  8. Posted October 10, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I have to put in a word for the red-eared sliders. I find them charming.

  9. Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t we all partly fluid?


  10. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps ducks are part liquid:

    They have cat genes?

  11. Hempenstein
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Has Botany Pond been there for a long while or is it relatively recent?

    Oherwise, James, this song’s for you.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Here it is in 1903 without the obscuring vegetation – it was an entirely new pond around then, but perhaps it was an extension/expansion of an existing natural pond – I can’t be sure:

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        There is a lot more pond out of frame at the bottom & to the left. The bit you’re seeing in the pic is the moat feature at one end of the pond.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted October 12, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink


    • rickflick
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Dum dum dum dum de do ah…
      Ooo yay yay yay yeah…
      Oh oh oh oh waha…
      Only the lonely…

      • Diane G
        Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        Everybody! Dum dum dum dum de do ah…

        • rickflick
          Posted October 11, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          Wait! My mouth is full of cookie…
          OK, now…

          • Diane G
            Posted October 11, 2018 at 9:14 pm | Permalink


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] via Duck report: Lonely James is still here — Why Evolution Is True […]

%d bloggers like this: