No complaints about the weather on Sunday – it looked and felt like Summer had arrived. Together with friends Dot and Derek we visited the Duck Pond in Te Haukeretu Park, adjacent to the Hutt River. This lovely spot is popular with families bringing their left over bread and crusts to feed the ducks, and we noticed many dog owners with their pets. Little fluffy dogs seemed to win the popularity stakes, but there were several large dogs too, with all dogs safely under close control on leads, as the regulations states. All youngsters love chasing ducks, and this little toddler was having a great time, with Mum and Dad looking on to make sure she was safe. This brought back memories of a lifetime ago when my own two children were toddlers and we took part in the duck feeding ritual too.
Across on the far bank was a female Paradise Shelduck, with her distinctive white head. These birds bond for life so her mate wouldn’t have been too far away. The pond was rather murky but we spotted several eels swimming around in the muddy water. (Eels are not my favourite thing, and I would hate to have a close encounter with one of these slithering creatures.)
Mallard ducks were the most common at the pond – and the New Zealand flocks were boosted considerably in the 1930s when acclimatisation societies introduced American birds for breeding programmes. Mallard ducks are the mainstay of the duck shooting season with about a million birds shot for sport each year. The males have a beautiful glossy green head, while the females are much plainer in their brown speckled feathers.
We wondered if the larger ducks on the edge of the pond were in fact domesticated ducks which had escaped from farm life. With no bread to tempt them with, they soon made a hasty retreat.
It was lovely being out and about enjoying the sunshine. There is something rather peaceful and soothing about being near water in such beautiful surroundings. After enjoying a cuppa together in Dot and Derek’s motor-home, we parted company. It was time for us to head home, and Robin had lawns waiting for him to mow. It wasn’t too far to walk, we just had to cross over the foot bridge and we were back in suburbia on our side of the Hutt River.
A short stroll later and we were home. Our cat Muffy let us know that she wasn’t at all pleased that we had left her outside all by herself while we were off looking at ducks. Don’t think she missed us too much, as once inside she curled up and went to sleep.