A bunch of ducks are appreciative of the ponded water of Happy Hollow Creek, at the southeast portion of Memorial Park. These days the birds going about their daily routine of swimming and eating a suitable morsel can be easily seen from the nearby sidewalk, just to the west of the southern, green metal barrier.
The extent of the duck activity was especially prominent on the morning of June 5th, during and after a time when some errant and unwanted aluminum cans were removed from a creek-side swale.
Nearby was a female wood duck with eight itty-bitty ducklings swimming close, before they disappeared around the bend. This was a new addition to the birdlife, because previous viewings had only been one mother wood duck with six youngsters. There obviously was a new family present.
Minutes after the trash removal chore was done, a second perspective from a bit southward indicated more fledgling ducks. The whole bunch did not like the subdued, yet obvious, momentary intrusion. The feathered fluffs, i.e., ducklings, scooted quickly away, their small legs paddling them towards their mom, as she called her brood together because of a perceived, yet not actual, danger.
Three female Wood Ducks were taking care of their own brood, with another family of six, and one with only two youngsters. The overall count of twenty is the largest number of this species observed since 2008 at this urban waterway.
History for this species in the Dundee area, does however go back much further. On June 6th, 1971, Rushton G. Cortelyou (editor of the Nebraska Bird Review), with a residence along Underwood Avenue about three blocks distant, reported Wood Ducks.
The legacy continues. Obviously the woods and water are a realized haven, so the birds continue to return in the annual wonder of finding a nest site, brooding eggs and bringing a batch of little birds into the world.
There were also those Mallards, including a female with her brood of six. Breeding of this species in this urban setting, rather than some wetland elsewhere, was first observed in later May 2009, along Wood Creek in nearby Elmwood Park.
The Happy Hollow activity was certainly a fowl scene. Hopefully there will be a sufficient buffet for all of them to survive. It was not all serene. A lone female Mallard, sitting creekside, upon being disturbed flew a short distance and landed among the flock. One greenhead chased her away into the main part of Memorial Park.
This habitat situation so suitable for the water birds, occurs because of the myriad of fallen trees and other stuff which inhibits the drainage of the urban waters which flow. The place would be less suited for the waterfowl if there was no ponding of the water.
The blockages in the creek do result in a gathering of trash, stagnant water because of the loss of a flow and the potential for a loss of trees due to flooding water conditions during rainfall events. Ducks find the place okay. People find the situation unacceptable, based upon complaints of trash in the creek.
It's an example of the whatever method of park management. A few weeks ago trash was removed because of a teevee report. The response to emails asking that the debris be completely removed meant replies indicating that it is too wet to remove the material gathered in the creek.
Obviously, the ducks want water, and the public does not want trash. There is now no known answer to this paradox. And that is because there has been no attention given to determining a suitable solution.
Duck watching can also be enjoyed southward along Wood Creek in Elmwood Park. Be sure to also take a look at Shadow Lake along Jones Street, because if there are no ducks, perhaps the Carolina Wren might provide a serenade.