Well, I have some very bad news about some of the Lake Murray favorites. The bad news is that the coyotes have been extremely active in the area around the fishing pier and have killed several domestic birds and perhaps a wild one or hybrid. But, before I give you more details about that, I would like to say that this has been a very good duckling season. So I will give you the duckling news first, then the bad news about who is gone.
First, I put together a slideshow. Below the slideshow, I will give you an update on some of the individuals in the video. Here is the slideshow:
This photo was taken today. Two moms had a single duckling in the area. However, I think the mama to this little one has disappeared. This female is the mother of the other duckling who has also disappeared. She is trying to adopt the one without a mom, but he is making it difficult to her. His future does not look good unless he lets her get close to him.
These are the two ducklings which used to go across the lake in deep water at least two or three times a day. They are nearly independent and their mama can't keep up with them. They've wandered off on their own many times.
This is "Little Guy." His mama was raising him near the parking lot. However, this particular mama duck loves to take her ducklings to an inaccessible area around the time they are a month old. Little Guy is about two weeks old here. Last I saw him, he was about 4-5 weeks old and getting very big and feathering fast. I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the many young ducks whom I've seen hanging out together lately. I don't think I could recognize him now.
This is Leuci, a Leucistic mallard. She's at least seven or eight years old. This is her with her last duckling out of a brood of about six ducklings. This little guy lived a few days longer than this photo, but didn't make it.
These two ducklings and the one in the photo below this one have a strange story. The two mamas look almost exactly alike. At one time, all three of the ducklings were together. There were two older ducklings and an adopted younger duckling. Then, when the bigger ducklings turned about two weeks old, the family split in two. One older one and a much younger one went with one mom and another older one went with the other mom. When the two moms get together, the three ducklings mix and match and are fine. However, the mom with two does not accept the other one, so when the families depart, the one duckling goes with one mom and the others go with the other mom.
Here is a new duck someone dumped at the lake. She has a hybrid mallard boyfriend already and is very shy. She goes way off to the far end of the lake and back to the docks everyday. I'm really surprised she's still alive because she is bright as day and I'm sure the coyotes see her at night.
OK, now for the bad news.
Remember the two new ducks I mentioned in my last post? Well, I don't even think it was a week after they arrived that the Pekin disappeared. The brown khaki duck went off with Blue for a while, then started hanging around Runner Duck and his buff friend. She was fine for about a month, then she, too, disappeared. I'm really hoping that their owners had a change of heart and came back to get them. I haven't seen any evidence of them being eaten, but I don't always see that when it happens.
Miss Grey reappeared and I was really happy. She was fine for at least a week or two, then disappeared again. Today, I found a large pile of feathers that looked exactly like hers. Since she has disappeared for long periods before, I'm hoping that the feathers were not from her and she will show up again.
Eight-year-old Snowie may have also been a victim of the coyotes, too. I saw some speculum feathers and some body and wing feathers that look a lot like her special feather patterns. Plus, her mate, Snowy has been acting very strange and her son seems traumatized. I did not find her on her nest.
Warning, grizzly details in this paragraph: However, someone said they found a head of a "regular mallard" near where I found the feathers, so it might not be hers. They said it was sliced clean off, which makes me wonder if humans are involved, though I have heard that can also happen naturally.
As you can see from this photo, her head doesn't look like a "regular mallard."
Another duck that's missing is the one that nesting near Peaches a few years ago. She was a Project Wildlife duck from a few years ago and hung out in that area. Today I found four duck eggs with holes in them. I suspect that they belonged to the owner of the feathers. Snowie had two eggs in her nest which were abandoned and disappeared a long time ago and these new eggs were still fresh.
Also, I am worried about this white goose. He hangs out with the grey goose and they have been at the lake a very long time. I only saw the grey goose today. This is extremely unusual as they are always together. They're both males, so no one is nesting with this pair. Here's a picture of them in 2012.
Miss Angel has also not been seen for over two weeks, but was not healthy the last time I saw her. Her mates, Little Guy and Big Guy, have also not been seen which makes me think she is hiding somewhere with them.