A small project helping Hampton Terrace's Lake Roberta regain it's days-gone-by luster or at least control the hydrilla. Peek around to hear about our ducks, bunnies, birds, frogs, hawks, people and oh yeah, our weeds.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Trick or Treat Time
Well there was a lot of noise and fanfare as we had the costume march around the lake Sunday. A nice turnout and only a few gremlins to be seen! Firetrucks, happy police and lots of little folks all dressed up. A regular parade about the pond. That ended the evening on a great note.
Then, sadly, this morning we found a killed muscovy and our near pet Pekin named Daisy is in pretty bad shape. Feathers everywhere, so it could have been a dog or car I suppose. Neither was found in the street, so it likely wasn't a car and little white feathers were all over the bank. We grabbed up Daisy and have her in our little duck hospital and are hoping for the best. She's alert and can drink, but seems unable to move. Off to the feed store we go to try and help our pretty quacking friend.
The joys and sadness of the lake, losing the animals is hard on us.
As an update 11/1 - this morning we bathed Daisy with the garden hose and have tried pedialite, bread and corn since she was attacked. She seems to drink but not eat. We pet her, told her how lovely she is and tried to make her comfortable. She actually was up on one leg a bit this morning so we got hopeful. Our plan was to take her to the vet tonight as we feared a spinal injury or red tide type bacterial infection. Our eyes are now full of tears as Daisy died sometime early this afternoon. We will miss her terribly as she was one of the sweetest creatures we had ever seen around the lake. Daisy filled in for the mother mallard when she was attacked. I don't really have any proof, but I'm pretty sure it's loose dogs or people encouraging their dogs to attack the birds. That both my wife and I have witnessed. When Daisy was dropped off with her mate, her mate was gone the very next morning. We are so sad about Daisy. We know we aren't responsible for these animals health, but we can't help but care for the lovely creatures living in a lake surrounded by so many dangerous, ugly things.
As posted on Hampton Terrace ... I guess I'm on break because I'm still mourning. Imagine that!
I agree gators are not terribly social, but a male can, or will, wander at times looking for a mate, hopefully not in a local pool or spa. Happy hour if you will and if he hits Nebraska, he will probably get run over. Thus, I am guessing we had a female. Had a nice smooth tummy and a sexy smile, but the corpse gave no obvious clues. While I don’t have a long history watching the goings on at the lake, so far, I don’t think the gator ate many, if any, ducks or ducklings. It probably got a few moorhens, but he ducklings very seldom go, or went, into the middle. Turtles, toads and frogs must make a good buffet.
Bigger problems for the lake are weeds, runoff and poop. Dog and duck poop, yard fertilizer and things like that. Some of the turtles are scary big. The Mallards tend to leave on their own, the Muscovies tend to stay. I suspect many of the ducks get their feet (flippers, paddles ????) chomped by hungry turtles, thus, almost always, limping ducks hobble around. Could be loose dogs chasing them too.
Two other duck predators are cars and (I’m guessing) humans. I suspect there is a lake vigilante at work here. Pairs of Muscovies, a Pekin, the gator and several other critters have up and mysteriously disappeared. Here one day, gone the next. Maybe it’s a well meaning person, or maybe a hungry person, I don’t know. I do know the pair of male Muscovies, which dominated here for years, vanished one night. I do think somebody intentionally killed the gator, likely with poison. I do know somebody mutilated the gator. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Plenty I don’t know about that too. Seems a terrible way to go for a relatively peaceful creature. I liked watching him cruise the bank or work on that suntan.
Most of the duck types that stay and die get hit by cars or simply vanish (see above). So I don’t think the gator controls them much. The herons tend to go after some of the ducklings. The hawks eat the toads (with great effort, toads must be made of rubber). If the community would watch for Muscovy nests and shake eggs then we can keep the population small. Check your yard if you live on the lake. They are nesting NOW, so go look. That’s not so difficult to do is it? I like the Pekins and frankly want a few more. Sadly, I am told that after somebody turned loose a couple large colorful koi, one was toted off at the end of a fishing pole.
This is an unusual lake because it’s in a fairly hostile area. By hostile, I mean street runoff, car traffic, invasive weeds, and lots of people. Think of the many retention ponds that support only turtles then look at the range of creatures calling lake Roberta home. I like them all. I only wish the City of Tampa was more interested.
My vote is we are best off trying to undo the stupid human tricks (hydrilla, dog poop, killing things) and let the lake sort things out. Objectively, to me, this is not a good place for a gator because somebody will get afraid, hungry or mean and take action. So, while my vote is indifference, I will always be concerned some well meaning idiot will kill the next one. I liked em there otherwise, especially after coming to believe the gator was a very minor threat to the lakes other inhabitants. Loose dogs and apathetic dog owners are a much bigger problem than that gator ever was. Loose cats kill birds, I guess cats are cats. All that said, nobody has any real control because all it takes is one drop-off and we have a new cat, duck, dog, gator, etc. in the hood. And, if it winds up in your yard, you can probably deal with it any way you choose, as only the Shadow knows.
Well it was early morning and as Wifey walked out front to hunt for the newspaper she was suprised to see a soft redish bunny helping to weed the flowerbed with those bucky teeth. More to come soon ...
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck it must be a duck. Kinda the Long Tall Sally of the duckdom world. Started out pretty aggressive, but seems to be fitting in now. Guess these are most recent refuges. The older brown one is quite easy going. Ole string bean has a lot of energy. Nothing like a good bite on the butt to get everyone away from the food pile. Guess this is a literal pecking order.
Ever seen a tree full of muscovies? It's in their nature and they crash about the limbs as they get back to their roots. They make us laugh a lot. Spotted this red shouldered hawk. Some kid with a skateboard was harassing it so after a bit of intervention the hawk gave up on eating a flattened stringy toad and settled on this branch. Been spotted for a couple days.
Now for the darn it all ... appears somebody vandalized the new grate so the hydrilla eating carp are on hold. Sheesh ... Evidently somebody thinks a lake full of life choking weeds is a good thing, or maybe they just don't think.