My Weekly Dose of Wild (2015): a little water therapy


I had a stressful day last weekend and was trying to decompress at home, do a bit of journaling online and trying to distract myself with social media when I thought - hey what I really need is some duckling time!  Those tiny little fluff balls of yellow are such a pick-me-up and I knew from local twitter posts that there were new duckling families out on the waterways.  So I grabbed the camera and made my way over to a familiar meandering river that offers lots of pathways, parks and river views.

I didn't want to disturb the vulnerable young so I brought a long lens.  I had read that the first month, where ducklings have their fluffy down, can be a very dangerous month for them as they can get hypothermia very quickly from being in the water too long.  Small ducklings (from one day to a couple of weeks old) can only be in the water for 30 minutes before they have to dry off and rest so it is essential to give them a wide berth.  They and their mother should feel safe enough to be able to get out of the water and find a quiet place for shelter.  So my long lens gave me the opportunity to observe them from across the river without interfering with their routine.

It was a wonderful warm afternoon and there were many people out: walking their dogs, playing sports, riding their bikes, reading under tree boughs and also enjoying the river views just like me.  Someone was even do balancing rock art!  I checked out a new path that I had heard about, where a local community group has been doing some restoration work and found some quiet spots where swans (including a black one) slowly paddled around and a black grackle hopped along the water looking for something.  When I spotted some movement across the water, I was thrilled to count at least ten small bobbing heads following their mother.  (I also read that the father drake is around but not too close.  He keeps an eye on his mate and will defend her if needed.)  The circle of life, every spring, new fluffy yellow ducklings, learning the ropes, following in that tight line, an instinct but also a familial connection.  Mother and babies: the link of protection, warmth and daily paddling and feeding lessons.  It really was a heartwarming sight.

I sat and watched for awhile, enjoying the fresh air, the slight breeze, the bright sky. I took in  the river vista, enjoying the ebb and flow of the water and the wildlife and appreciating the tranquil scene. No matter what goes on with us in our busy, stressful lives, nature is always there to welcome us and provide comfort.  There's always another day and another sweet brood of ducklings.

Nothing can change that.

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