Salish Pond

Good afternoon. It’s almost the long weekend and I am really ready for a break. I have been working out of town for the last 3 weeks and have really fell behind in my picture taking. One thing I do want to share and preserve forever on the inter webs is an event that happened last weekend.

On Friday we were walking to the grocery store to pick up some things for Chris’s lunch when we decided to go thru the park, earlier in the week he had told me about the Canadian geese and their goslings that were in the park. I really wanted to see them and eventually take photos. Earlier in the week when Chris first saw the geese he saw someone try and grab one of the goslings. It’s sad that some people hate these birds. Sure they hiss and make a mess but they are creatures and have every right to be there. Proving that I married the right person Chris wanted to go deal with the man for trying to hurt the gosling but luckily he didn’t have to since it got away unharmed.

So we walked into the park and looked for the family of geese. We spotted them on the other side of the pond but I could hear peeping coming from nearby. I looked over the pond again and off to the side not to far from us was a duckling in amongst the lily pads. It was all alone and calling out to its momma which was nowhere to be seen. It was heart breaking. Chris assured me that it was fine and that mom would be back for it shortly. It was getting dark fast so we went and got our groceries and took a different way home since you could hear him crying all the way across the street from the park.

Before we went to bed Chris looked up the nearest wildlife rescue organization just in case the duckling was alone in the morning.

The next morning after Chris got ready for training I went out to the pond to take photos and check on the duckling. When I got to the pond everything was quiet and the geese family was out eating grass, I walked over and took a few photos. They walked within a few feet of me and daddy goose didn’t even hiss at me. Then I spotted something in the lily pads, the little duckling was still there and all alone. He was trying to join the other ducks but they just swam away from him or chased him away. I called the wildlife rescue Chris found the night before. They confirmed my fears, duckie was abandoned and in need of rescue. The catch was that they couldn’t come get him, but if I caught him and brought him to them they would take him in. So I headed off to my parents to get a net. I already had food and a box but figured a fishing net was my best bet.

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When I picked up the net my dad told me that you can get arrested for capturing wildlife. I wasn’t to concerned, anyone trying to arrest me would see I am trying to help right? Even so I was all alone and the pond was big, so I called Animal Control. They couldn’t help me but did say they wouldn’t arrest me either. They sent me onto Conservation and a rescue group and wished me luck. The rescue turned out to be OWL a place ~100km from me specializing in raptors. They too couldn’t help but once again assured me I wouldn’t get arrested. Next was conservation which doesn’t deal with birds but the lady on the phone was really pulling for me to catch the little duckling.

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So alone I returned back to the pond with my net. It quickly became apparent this wasn’t going to be easy. It was rainy and cold. My net was only 3 feet long and the duckling stayed away from the edges. I lured the adults in with food (another thing the rescue people advised me to do) but he seemed to be able to read my mind and would swim off if I even thought of moving in for a capture. I met other people at the pond some cheered me on and wished me luck others obviously thought I was crazy. No one helped. The most help I got was from two men who may or may not have lived in or around the park. They told me a sad story. There had been a female with 5 ducklings living in the pond. A few days ago they noticed the ducklings in a corner peeping, they went over and found momma floating upside down lifeless. Now days later there was only one duckling left. Heartbroken for the little duckling I kept trying but after 3 hours I was soaked, and loosing hope. I made a facebook plea and my BFF came out for moral support. While we talked I got the little duck to eat some seed, he also seemed to have found a pair of ducks that didn’t totally hate him. With that we went for lunch and dry shoes.

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After lunch a photography friend of mine, who also happens to volunteer at OWL, came and helped. We tried a few more times and no luck. She didn’t see much chance in us catching him, his survival instinct was strong so maybe he’d make it. At the very least he knew well enough not to go near the edges of the pond.

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Chris called me to see how I was doing. I was ready to give up but he was determined to come help me once he got off work. He came up with a bunch of red neck ways to catch the duckling. He was even willing to go in the pond. The nasty sess-pool, duck poopy pond. Seriously it’s gross. Urban ponds are gross. Honestly if I ever had doubts that we were meant to be it was proven right then (not that I doubt but marriage affirming stuff right there).

I went home and showered, curled up in bed and waited for Chris to get home. When he did we packed up the car with gear and headed to the pond. We got out and for the first time all day the sun was shining. Good sign right? Nope. We couldn’t find him, anywhere. We did find a giant koi in the area he had been frequenting. We looked in all the little ponds, on the paths, bushes, where the ducks were sunning themselves. He was gone.

So we went back to the car and did what anyone would do in our situation, we went and had dinner. At dinner I was resigned to the fact that we were to late. He had died of hypothermia, starvation, the koi got him, or a bird. Even the other ducks could have killed him without momma to protect him. Chris was more optimistic saying he was rescued by someone else, got out of the pond, or was still there and we’d get him after dinner.

We went back after dinner and although there were other ducks I knew instantly the pond was empty. No duckie.

So I spent over 4 hours failing to save a duckling. A duckling who along with its siblings had been in trouble for days. In the end they are all gone, the entire little family. It’s sad, but I try and think that at least maybe he served a purpose. That hopefully he didn’t die alone of hypothermia but maybe was a meal for a hungry koi, hawk, raccoon, something that will help another creature make it another day. That would be ok with me, I just didn’t want him to die alone. I am glad I married someone as crazy as me who thinks spending time saving a duckling is worthwhile, who tries to paint a brighter picture than is the probable reality.

I have been sick the last 5 days and missed 2 days of work. Probably due to the stress of commuting 2.5 hours every day and trying to save a duck in the rain on my days off. The duck was worth it, now to finish my project so I can stop commuting and take more photos!

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