I ignored the swarm of blackflies as I watched a solitary male mallard duck skim the far side of Drag River. The flood was receding so he was not bumping his iridescent green head on overhanging branches. I was happy for him but I had to wonder: where was Mrs. Mallard? Guarding the nest?
Then I wondered: what nest?
Did the flood take out their ‘family home’? Were eggs or hatchlings swept away? Was Mrs. Mallard lost? Good grief, I thought. What are the effects of high water and flooding on waterfowl habitats?
I checked out the info on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website and it was as I assumed. Mallards – along with lots of other waterfowl – tend to nest in or near wetlands or close to riverbanks. Those same wetlands and riverbanks were profoundly affected by the high waters so my concern about Mrs. Mallard and her nestlings was not misplaced.
I can only imagine how devastating the flood was to businesses, home owners and cottagers this spring. Our trips into Minden were constant reminders of how wide-ranging those effects were. But it isn’t just humans that have their daily lives upended by natural disaster. Changing the shoreline, flooding and erosion – through nature or human interference – all have consequences. Because our human world is so closely tied to our natural world, we would be wise to remember and value all the residents of the Haliburton Highlands.
In the weeks since I last saw my lone duck, there’s been no sign of Mrs. Mallard and her kids. But I’m hopeful. After all, nature can be both terrible and amazing – time and again, all of us animals have shown our resilience.
So I’m betting on amazing. How about you?
Drag River where Dock Used to be: Linda Morrison Jones, Whitby, Ontario
Mallard Duck: Alain Carpentier http://alaincarpentier.com/