Monday, October 01, 2007

Just Duckie

As I type this, I'm sitting in a hammock chair with a cat (His Royal Highness:Prince Bagheera) rubbing against my legs. I'm overlooking the pool, and there isn't a single duck anywhere to be seen!

Hahahahahahaha! I have outsmarted the ducks, and there wasn't even any bloodshed nor ringing of necks :)

But wait... How did I get to be talking (typing) about ducks? Well, there's a tale to be told...

Da Ducks:

Firstly, the house we are in has a pool (duh), and I think I've mentioned this once or twice or thrice or fource or fifece. This pool is over 30 sq metres, that's at least 330 sq ft of surface area --bigger than my first apartment back in Squarebanks!

About a month after we moved in (yes, we lease the place from the new owners --long story) I heard two small splashes in the pool. Two ducks had landed in the pool and decided they liked it.

Being winter (or what passes for winter down here) I wasn't *too* concerned as I wasn't planning on being in the pool anytime soon. Side note: a short while later I decided I was going to use the pool cus I got tired of cleaning it without getting a swim!

I'll be posting a pic of the original two ducks in a moment, just as soon as I get back to my own computer where I have the pics, instead of here in the hammock while using one of the laptops. The house does have wireless broadband so I could upload this post from this here hammock chair overlooking my duck-free pool, but I'll wait till I get the pics so y'all can see the ducks --ain't I nice?

*found a pic of one of them*

It turns out they are what's called Pacific Black Ducks --I call these two Pacific Blond Ducks since they aren't too smart. There's a huge wetland area right around the corner where there are perfect places for loads of ducks. And up at Flinders U there's a big duckie pond, and then just up the hill at Wittunga Botanical Gardens are two great duck ponds. All of those have reed lined shores, lily pads, nesting areas, duckweed, etc. So why would these two Pacific Blonds come around to my pool with no nesting area, chlorinated water, and no food? As I wrote earlier: they are blond! Either that or they are having an affair and don't want the other ducks to know!

I did some research into these ducks and it turns out they are nomadic (not migratory), and they were in the middle of their breeding season. Now, as cute as ducklings are, I didn't want any around cus they'd grow up in mortal danger from His Royal Highness: Prince Bagheera. Don't worry, remember, these two are pacific BLOND ducks...

The first egg I found was on the bricks by the pool where the two of them would sit. Now, the edge of the pool (where they sit) is 8 inches higher than the bricks... Needless to say, the egg was cracked and had been abandoned! I knew right then that I wasn't dealing with the two brightest bulbs in the duck world...

Ah! I'm back! I was gone for a few minutes as I grabbed to power cable for the laptop, so back to the duck story (hey, the screen's brighter now too!):

Keep in mind, there is absolutely NOTHING around here for them to eat. My pool is NOT full of reeds and bracken for nesting areas. They also never overnighted --yet another sign of an affair?

Then, 3 days later, I find a small "nest" under one of the palm trees by the pool. I type "nest" cus it was a small hollowed out area in the dirt. No leaves, no twigs, no NOTHING except for one lone duck egg.

Was there a duck on the egg? NO. Was the egg cold? YES. Gee, why was the egg cold? Perhaps cus the two blond ducks left it overnight, uncovered, when the temp got down to 5 C (41 F). Ummmmmmm... let's see... a duck egg left at 41 F for ten hours... I don't think it'll hatch!

Side note: duck eggs taste like chicken eggs.

The third egg to show up (and last), was actually covered by one little leaf while mommy and daddy went off galivanting for 3 days.

Now do you know why I call these two pacific BLOND ducks?

At this point I was hoping that the Duck Division of Family and Youth Services would show up and haul these two off. But no, the Evil Duck showed up instead...

The Evil Duck was also Pacific Black, not very nice at all, and was probably the lady duck whom the other two cheated on. As soon as the first two would land, then the Evil Duck would land and fight with the female of the first pair.

Alright, time for some names: the first pair are Joe and Josephine, and the Evil Duck is Daphnee.

So, Daphnee would relentlessly attack Josephine while Joe sat and watched (catfight?????). I kid you not, I thought Daphnee would kill her! She tried to drown her on several occasions, while Joe circled around (probably shouting encouragement). I remember one time being woken at 6 am to the standard morning "duck fight", but this one sounded BAD. I tossed my robe on, went downstairs, opened the patio door and found what can best be described as a "rolling duck ball" on the back lawn. It turns out that the rolling duck ball was all three of my current pool tenants and the feathers were flying --side note: the cat was watching this with a perplexed look. They then flew away, but only onto the neighbours roof and went at it again. I'm sure the neighbours LOVED their wake-up call.

Another time, Daphnee chased Joe and Josephine onto the brick wall around the BBQ area and latched onto Josephine's tail feathers so tightly that they both fell six feet onto the bricks below. I thought my troubles were over, but, alas, both ducks were both fine.

For the next month the routine went like this: Joe and Josephine would shown up at the crack of dawn for a quick swim (and crap) in my pool. Then Daphnee would show up and chase them both off. Daphnee would then proceed to hang out in the pool all day long --while crapping a LOT.

Then one day, Daphnee got herself a boyfriend! He didn't look like a normal Pacific Black Duck, more like a Grey Teal Duck, but the markings weren't right for either... He lasted for 2 weeks and then was gone --I'm sure Daphnee tired of her boy-toy quickly.

For a week, life was back to normal: 530 am duck fight, duck crap in pool, Daphnee strutting around and crapping everywhere.

Then one day, the New Arrival shows up. Let's call him Daffy (he'd had to be daffy to hang around with Daphnee, Joe, and Josephine). He's a Mallard! I wake up one morning to see a convoy of at 4 ducks landing (and crapping) in my pool. Ok, fine thinks I, 'Daphnee and her blondie have made up with Joe and Josephine'. But when I look out the window, one of the ducks looks suspiciously like a male Mallard.

I even took a pic when I went outside. As soon as I get to my computer I'll post it in, no worries.

*found it*

Yup: One HUGE male Mallard led Daphnee, Joe, and Josephine to my pool. Daffy was fairly skittish around me, so the pics aren't the best. When Daffy flew off, the three Pacific Blacks flew off with him (he's a stud!).

It was at this point I did three things (regarding the pool). I researched Aussie ducks, I made the pool cover, and I bought floating pool furniture. Shall we review them in order?

1) Aussie ducks

Joe, Josephine, and Daphnee were without a doubt, Pacific Black. PB's are nomadic (no ducks down here migrate --why leave year-round summer?) and they INTERBREED with a certain type of duck the Europeans brought down here. Can you guess what they interbreed with? If you guessed "Mallard" then you are right! Unfortunately, the Mallard genes are dominant over the PB's, so they could be bred to extinction. Major Bummer. Soooooo, since the offspring are viable, that means same species, different race.

2) Pool cover

I was going to make a pool cover (owner won't buy one) when the weather really warmed up to conserve water, but I thought I should do it soon so the ducks go somewhere else. I researched how much a commercial cover for a pool this size would cost ($800+) and compared that to the materials to make my own thermally insulated cover ($105). Guess which choice I made? Oh c'mon, GUESS? What a great way to blow off four afternoons by playing with tarps, bubble wrap, sealastic, and (the handyman's secret weapon) Duct Tape!

Remember: If the women don't find you handsome, at least they'll find you handy!

3) Floating pool furniture

Have you ever thought how nice it would be to float around in your own pool on a 90 to 100 F degree day, the water temp is 80 F, and you're floating half-in and half-out of the water in a nylon mesh thingy suspended by two pontoons with an inflated headrest? Now imagine your hat is pulled over your eyes and you are taking a nap while laying (floating) in the pool (furniture). What does this have to do with ducks? Well, the yellow nylon mesh scares them away!

I was thinking about doing a food post for this, but I'm sure you all know how to cook omelettes and Peking Duck takes too long to make.

Cheers from Oz,

Oh don't forget, a story about how we all almost died in a creek in Alaska decades ago.


Suzer said...

Duck for Thanksgiving, as you can't get turkeys until December?

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Yeah! Great idea, they also fit in the small Aussie ovens better than a turkey.

Da Duck said...

not asking how you found out duck eggs taste like chicken eggs.....

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Actually, I didn't, but it made a good line in the story (the one and only embellishment).

The eggs had ZERO chance of hatching as they were either cracked or very cold.

Suzer said...

Too true on the ovens...very 'English' style. I brought baking sheets over to England only to find out they don't fit in the ovens! My husband wants to entirely do away with the oven when we redo our kitchen, in favour of a convection microwave?? I would prefer two ovens, so I guess we'll compromise and have one decent size one;)

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Suzer: Fortunately I have one of those huge gas barbies that I can roast a turkey in.

Suzer said...

Now there's an idea. Imagine the jealousy back home..a bbq on turkey day.