I’m convinced now more than ever that something must have been released in the atmosphere (so to speak) as Hurricane Ida broadsided South Florida this past weekend headed for Pensacola in Florida’s Panhandle region.
How else (then) could someone explain why a lone Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) went completely bunkers in our community’s man made lake as the neighbors and I starred in utter disbelief for nearly a half an hour.
We all know, or at least believe, that ducks take to water like fish, but what I witnessed this past weekend was absolutely mind-boggling.
Literally hundreds of these Muscovy critters hang out by the lake in the Montego Bay community where I live, so it is not out of the ordinary seeing them in and out of the water at any time, taking a nap around mid-day or becoming somewhat hostile come dinner time when they’re anxious for scraps. They are simply always (always) around.
In fact, it’s no longer any fun fast walking or jogging around the lake anymore because there’s duck poop all over the place. One has to literally plot a course to avoid stepping into old or new poop which, needless to say, is not a pleasant smell.
These Muscovies are so people friendly, though, sometimes you don’t even know they are around and seeing them swimming and washing themselves persistently is not, in the slightest, unusual either. That’s why is was so out of nature or out of character last Saturday when this one male Muscovy began behaving like a ‘duck on crack’ jumping in and out of the lake and literally taking headers (diving) as if he knew there were spectators watching him strut his duck stuff.
It was certainly no ‘mating cry’ or a ‘Dance of the Loins’ because there were no duck honeys within a hundred feet of this flapping maniac. But, it didn’t prevent him for doing his Saturday Night Fever, Muscovy Style, for almost thirty minutes. Indeed a neighbor came up to me, noticeably more flabbergasted than I was with a: “…What the heck is wrong with that freaking duck…?” he said. Then soon there were two other neighbors and, before you know it, there were at least about thirty to forty people watching this most unusual performance by a Muscovy.
Not that I sit around all day watching ducks mate, mind you, but after awhile you get a sense of their weird mating routine so much so that you can tell when something is about to take place. This was certainly no mating gesture and, not a chance, that anything was about to happen. Again, there are literally hundreds of these buggers around so I’d be telling a big fat lie if I was to say I’ve never seen them mate before. In fact they’re worse than rabbits.
Good thing I had my new camera with me, though. In fact I was so caught up with all that was happening; I didn’t even realize how many pictures I had taken during the thirty minutes or so as I was watching this Muscovy’s ‘Symphony On Water.’ (457 pictures when it was all over.)
“Holy Duckling,” I remembered thinking out loud … 457 shots? Thank God for digital cameras because I ended up deleting about 75% of the images for one reason or another, but the fifty or so images that I’m keeping are simply …. Priceless.
Animals behave very oddly during climatic conditions in a manner that human beings certainly don’t or can’t comprehend. My family and I are survivors of Hurricane Andrew (1992) so I can speak with much say-so of the twenty four hours preceding the Big One. This is, of course, in retrospect in that it didn’t quite ring home as it was really happening at the time.
The night before Hurricane Andrew made its historic landfall into south Florida, I remember only too well how the dogs in my community were barking like a bunch of drunken sailors which, again in reptrospect, was most unusual. It was most unusual because our community was ever so quiet. Honestly, our community was soooooooo quiet, I never knew that some of my neighbors actually had dogs. But as a young boy, I do remember very well my mother telling of how animals (dogs in particular) get fanatical when a storm or bad weather is approaching.
Remember the recent Tsunami in Indonesia? Several residents there (too) mentioned of witnessing a peculiar animal phenomenon just before the Tsunami struck. “…Many animals (goats, sheep, dogs etc.,) seem to be heading for higher grounds” one resident remembered observing. (Now we all know that they, the animals, ‘were not’ exactly whistling Dixie as they was moving out of harms way.)
Since Hurricane Ida was making her trek from the Central America region while deciding on which northern territory to lambaste, maybe the Muscovy ‘duck dance’ was all about sending a message (like Paul Revere) that The British are coming! The British are coming! Or, Hurricane Ida is coming! Hurricane Ida is coming!
Like the dogs barking forewarning of Hurricane Andrew’s impending disaster seventeen years ago, however, it appears I may have also missed the Muscovy’s warning too. Although the storm did not make a South Florida landing (thank God) it certainly could have.
Maybe I’ll be more vigilant next time…