The Muted Pond

I have not visited the containment pond for a few months. The ground is uneven and I am still working on my balance after my fainting fall. It was a glorious day, windy and warm, so Teddy accompanied me. To my utter delight, we have a new resident – a white swan! As I approached the ducks’ hangout area, she came walking out with the defensive neck position – see below. The little whistling ducks and the Muscovy ducks were unfazed because they are used to regular visitors.

The whistling ducks below are summer visitors. They fly back down to Latin America when winter comes. This group are juvenile and they look like they have buzzcuts. To segue, when I returned to school in the ’70s after the summer holidays, there were always a few boys with a military buzzcut. It took me years to realize that they had all been in juvenile detention for gang activity… Ah, the joys of living on the other side of the tracks!

Aren’t the whistling ducklings below adorable? They were so tiny and looked like the British candy ‘Humbugs’ – a traditional striped rock candy. Every year the mother ducks have up to 10 ducklings but usually end up with about 4 adults. I guess they make a nice snack for the various predators that visit the pond…

I was gently envious of two lovely posts by BabsjeHeron who photographed a heron and later two hawks washing. There is usually a heron or two at this pond but I have yet to see them washing. Then I spotted this pair of Muscovy ducks and one was washing – I love the droplets of water around her.

Below is a very pretty little Muscovy girl duck. The males have more of the red caul on their heads. She was quite happy to pose while I chatted to her.

There were many ladies around including the female Pond Hawk dragonfly below. She wears an emerald outfit but her beau wears blue and green. They hover above humans at the pond because we attract mosquitoes and other bugs.

This snappily dressed young man, below, is an American Robin. The male and female have similar coloring but the male have a more vivid breast color. His white spectacles match his boots.

Most of the wildflowers are past but there were a few Black eye Susie’s left. Their black eye is really dark brown.

Eventually the swan relaxed and posed while I photographed her. I love her reflection in this image below and the ripples on the water. She is not entirely mute but much like the Muscovy ducks, she was talking to us silently – just opening and closing her beak with no noise. Swans can grunt, hiss and trumpet but the Muscovy Ducks just make a breathy noise. The Whistling Ducks are the opposite. You can hear their high pitched squeaks from a distance.


Ducks watching Ducks

It’s been a while since I strolled around the containment pond with my pesky eye irritation. As I rounded the curve, I could hear the panicked high pitched peeps of the whistling ducks. The parents ran away from the grass where they were nesting with babies in tow and splashed into the water. The bombproof Muscovy ducks just sat and watched with perplexment. They live here year around and are domesticated – nothing to fear from humans who feed them (and keep them warm when it snows). The whistling ducks are migratory so are pretty feral and very skittish.

This year we have a bumper crop of whistling ducks to go back to Latin America. Dozens and dozens of lovely wee non-ducks, as we call them as they are neither ducks nor geese. The ducklings are just precious little ‘stripes’. I didn’t see any Muscovy ducklings this year but I think this lot are all the same family. It’s doubtful that would stop them getting frisky, though… Red faces not red necks?

On my trek back, I got a better photo of the six Muscovy Ducks. Don’t they look dapper in their evening wear? I like the touch of taupe in the middle duck and the silver one is my favorite. They look ready for the Oscars or whatever the Duck equivalent is.

For Eliza

Ernie and Harry

Eliza had asked to see some photographs of my regular walk around our containment pond, so without further ado… We often see all the varieties of heron fishing together. There are little snowy egrets, little green heron, night heron, Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron.

Rory, the American Robin

I love Robins – British Robins are small and vividly red like our Cardinals. The American Robins have such lovely songs and their coloring is so pretty.

Shrimpy Shrimp is always in flower – even on the coldest days!

She is a native of Mexico – beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds

Happy Hibiscus!

I love this tree sized pink Hibiscus bush which is on one of our shared neighborhood flower beds. We live in a posh commune…

Vladimira, the Black Vulture

I opened my front door and Vladimiri was standing right in front of me, drinking the water from one the neighbor’s sprinklers.  I chatted to her and admired her juvenile who flew away but she was not bothered by my presence. Unlike the next wonderful creature.

Walter, the Water Moccasin?

I am not entirely sure if this is the venomous Water Moccasin or a Diamond Back Water snake. Teddy was shouting, “Don’t get too close!”, to no avail as I was determined to get a shot of the snake swimming. It was so EXCITING!!

Pineapple Gauva Blossoms. They have delicious little fruit.

Bobby, the Blackbird

This is the American blackbird – not dissimilar to the European version but with a gorgeous flash of scarlet on the wings.

The Waltons – Whistling Ducks

Whistling Ducks are not really true ducks, nor geese – they are a sub family Dendrocygninae.  Some Whistling Ducks, further south than us, nest in trees to keep the eggs safe from alligators. I think we will have many babies soon…

Bonnie, the Eastern Bluebird

The local Bluebird Group have little houses all over our township and this year we have TWO pairs of Bluebirds of Happiness.

Postcard from Sugarland

Look at this lovely little baby! This is a one year old alligator at Brazos State Park, south west of Houston. This Park has been closed recently because of the devastating floods in certain parts of Texas. Summer has arrived suddenly and the intense heat has helped to dry up some of the worst of the flooding. The media, quite naturally, has focused on the impact the flooding has had on humans but nature has both suffered and benefited. Texas has had a 10 year drought and the water is badly needed but it doesn’t need to come all at once – does it? The alligators have delayed their breeding season, as have many other animals and some of the alligator eggs have had to be incubated because the nests were too close to human traffic. I had the great privilege of being able to stroke this lovely little critter and like other reptiles it was really dry to the touch, like bumpy leather. It was incredibly hot walking around the various lakes but the trees gave some shade. It was blissfully free of other people because it had only reopened the day before so you had the real feel of escaping the city. It was my first proper visit to Sugarland, the home of Imperial Sugar, and I was very impressed with this small master planned city. It was subtly different from my home to the north of Houston and the ecology changed from Piney Woods to Gulf Coast. Sometimes the best vacations are just an hour or so away… Click on the red link to find out more about Brazos, Sugarland and its intriguing history that goes back to the Spanish land grants in Texas. POSTCARD FROM SUGARLAND – CLICK HERE