Monday: duck report

As usual, there’s never a dull moment at Botany Pond.  As I mentioned in my last report, there were SIX drakes at the pond yesterday. Later in the afternoon, I noticed that some violent fights had broken out among them, with up to three drakes biting each other’s necks in a furious tangle of beaks and wings.

When I went downstairs to see what was going on, I found that a new hen had invaded the pond. She wasn’t Honey, but she was quacking, and I’m sure her presence instigated the fighting. Here she is, I believe with Gregory, the dominant mallard (he had his wings full trying to drive all the other drakes out of the pond.

She’s a quacker! Here she is with her chosen mate (who is clearly two-timing Honey):

That hen wasn’t Honey, as you can tell from this photo. She’s quite plump, too.

After a while, she got in the water with Gregory, and they swam off, but were pursued by another amorous drake. As you can see below, a vicious duckfight ensued, and right on the spot where James and Billzebub battled it out for Honey’s affection last year. You can see this hen jump out of the water before the fight starts, but she eggs on the males (as did Honey last year) by quacking loudly.

The fight begins 54 seconds in:

Gregory won, and the two went off to the bank, where I fed them:

But you never know what will happen next. This morning I watched as two giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis) plopped into the pond. Sure enough, it was old 92P and 88K, the same pair who invaded the pond last year. (These geese mate for life.) They had come back again! Last year they had goslings, and then left early on while the young were still small. I didn’t want that to happen again, so I went down and had a standoff with the geese—not hurting them but confronting them. There was much honking, but they eventually flew away.  I’m afraid I haven’t seen the last of them.

88K is the female, 92P her mate (I know this because I reported their band numbers last year and acquired a Goose Spotting Certificate that gave their sexes and approximate birth dates). I still don’t know about those stiff neck tags (their legs are banded as well). They seem to do fine, but it looks constricting.

Here’s a video of the pair:

15 Comments

  1. cicely berglund
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    This is all getting pretty neat!
    Maybe we will see 92P and 88K up here-tho’ likely they will not come this far East.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Good thing ducks do not have access to weapons.

  3. jhs
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    It warms my heart to know that geese mate for life.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Here she is with her chosen mate (who is clearly two-timing Honey)

    Hey, it happens. That other Gregory Peck had an extramarital fling with Ingrid Bergman while the two of them were filming Hitchcock’s Spellbound, too.

  5. Posted April 15, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking perhaps the rewards of being king and queen of this pond with its benefits is becoming known and competition for its resources is only going to get more intense.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    With a gazillion geese, what are the chances that both members of a goose pair would be banded?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 15, 2019 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      If you knew how many bands had been issued, that’s a standard statistics exercise. Hypogeometric distribution, if I recall correctly. It’s a standard technique for estimating populations sizes. Mark (for example) 100 of your population and release. Later “recapture” another sample. (“capture” can refer to imaging in a camera, if you can read the tags or otherwise identify individuals) Say it’s another batch of a hundred, and five of them are from your previous marked batch. Estimated population size is 2000.

      Ever seen one of those databases of whale-tail barnacles and the like? Capture-recapture population size estimate in action.

    • Posted April 15, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      The geese were from the same place and banded at the same station.

  7. rickflick
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    What next? Gulls?

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    What’s the chance all this hen and the new males are Honey’s offspring from last year? They associate Botany Pond with a reliable source of tasty food! I’d be back too.

  9. Posted April 16, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Neck tags are surely useful to trace geese, but spoil their photos.


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