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Big Duck

March 27, 2012

Woodland Lakes RV Park, Conroe/Woodlands, Texas

This place is not far from Lake Conroe, a really big body of water.  And yet, a large number of ducks have made this RV park their home.

During the day, a flock of them spend their time at the pond by the entrance to the RV park.  When we were parked near the back of the park, beside the larger lake, we noticed that these ducks made their way back there at about the same time every day, with a noisy flapping of wings in landing mode.  There are a few showoffs, who swoop in low and do a paddling landing, kicking up a spray of water in front of them, then coasting into a slow paddle.  They spent some time, then lifted off together, and flew back to the front pond, where they presumably spend the night.

We hadn’t really given much thought to the way the ducks seemed to be paired up.

But the more one pays attention, the pairings become more noticeable.  They’re everywhere, flying, swimming, and even walking around the park, two by two.

One pair was especially noticeable fairly early on.  A large white duck with a red caruncle on his face waddled slowly around the middle pond where we are currently parked, doing a duck version of a paseo, leisurely strolling around the pond with his mate.

One evening, I made as if to slowly approach them, and the big guy’s pace sped up only slightly, moving in my direction, almost as if he was putting himself between me and his mate.  Regardless of his true intentions, I got the distinct impression that he was going into protective mode.

And then we got the notice from the office.  “Please,” it said, “watch your speed in the park.”  It went on to explain that this big guy’s mate had been hit by a car and killed.  It’s been several days now, and Big Duck wanders around the park, looking a bit lost.  He still does his evening paseo, alone.  I’ve seen him the last few nights, at twilight, roosting on the railing of the little fishing dock, tucking his head under his wing, settling in for the night.

Yesterday, I was talking with the manager’s wife, who runs the office.  She knew he was spending the night on the railing.  And, she told me, he comes up in the mornings and sits on the office porch, looking out over the front pond.  She said they had introduced him to another potential mate, but so far he just wasn’t interested.

It takes time.

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