Sunday, September 5, 2010

And Then There Were Ten

I had been thinking of posting for a while. You know what I mean - phrases, ideas, photo opps all piling up. It was going to be about how much I love the fall garden and how welcome the last two days have been weather-wise. The pulling of the blue jeans from storage the consideration of socks... though I haven't gone so far yet.

Unfortunately, this post is about the first loss in the duck flock. One of the little brown ducks was killed today by a raptor. We don't know what kind, maybe an immature eagle of some sort, apparently we have both bald and golden on the river only two blocks from the urban farm. I heard some ruckus outside, but it was brief. About a half hour later, I went out and the remaining flock was tightly huddled and staring at the bird that had just started eating the little brown duck. The bird flew away, and it had to be one of the largest I had ever seen. The duck was undeniably dead, which I admit was something of a relief. I herded the flock into their pen and closed them up tight. They were freaked, and kept staring across the creek at their dead companion.

I went inside for the SB. We found an old tee shirt relegated to the rag bag and made a little shroud for her. Then the SB brought out the maddock to dig a hole for her. There has been so little rain the ground is dry a foot down, which is about where we planted her. With a couple of large logs on top to deter the animals from excavating. Rest in peace little duck. Thank you for being with us and giving us so much pleasure and so many eggs. I know you had a pretty good duck life while it lasted. Lots of water time and friends and a comfy place to live and lots of grazing opportunities. You got the short end of the stick on the lesson learned and for that I am truly sorry.

On one hand, I am glad it was a raptor and not a dog or something that would have just killed the duck for fun. On the other, a raptor is a menace because it is so difficult to protect against. It could pretty much strike at any time that they are out. I am hoping this immature bird is on his way some place else. Since he didn't really get much of a chance to eat his prize, I am hoping he sees it as a lot of risk for not much reward.

He did come back later to tuck back in to his dinner, but the body was buried by then. He looked confused. Had that, "I know I left that thing here somewhere look" for a while. No kidding, he was standing on the ground and must have been 2 feet tall. Freaky.

He left the grass and flew to a low branch, I guess to get a better look at what was going on. That is when the blue jays found him. I have never much cared for blue jays, but today, I was totally cheering them on today. Those brave little birds were dive bombing that raptor. It was sitting there in a tree, and first there was one jay, calling and swooping, and then another joined in. Then a wood pecker came along, and another jay, and they were making such a racket and giving that bird so much grief, that he left. Flew off to some high place where blue jays don't follow. And I hope he stays there, though I heard him calling later in the afternoon.

Raise your glass to a happy little duck. And cross your fingers that this raptor doesn't make a habit of this.