I wonder if the ducks know that the pond is frozen before they land on it. There’s really nothing funnier than a mallard skidding across the ice, leaving smudgy web-prints in his wake.
All I can think of is how much it must scrape their little duck feet, and how cold it must be. Of course, they don’t seem too bothered… Most waddle over to the edge, where liquid water no doubt carries some sort of seasonal lunch.
And really, if this were a “normal” mid January, these duckies would be battling wind and snow, or working their way south to warmer weather. Maybe they’re just as baffled as the rest of us by the sunny, 50 degree days, and figure they might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
They’re certainly bold little things. After I’ve watched them for about three minutes, five turn in my direction and hop up the stairs toward my bench. I assume they want a handout. I have nothing to offer them. No matter – they just duck-walk on to the pavilion behind me, hoping for a few crumbs from a school group or a fowl loving bread thrower.
Duck squabbles ensue. An emerald-headed male nips at a female who might be edging too close to his feeding area. Two other males quack at each other to keep their distance from the ladies. Another group begins to eye me, and I entertain images of a duck ambush where I’m subjected to beaks in my pockets and rummaging through my hair.
Then, as if responding to some cue, the entire flock of 20 or so alters its course on the ice to move down the shore. I watch them wade through the water, or tread the thin edge of the ice, which occasionally breaks under their feet, causing dippage into the icy water beneath. That’s my sign to continue my walk, and the ducks and I waddle in opposite directions, hopefully to meet again in the spring.