sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 10, 2010

c&o canal report — early may
posted by soe 1:53 am

Late Saturday afternoon, Rudi and I headed down to the C&O Canal Towpath for a bike ride and to see if we could spy any baby animals. I share our success with you:

The canal seemed to be having some issues with water flow, with mud flats making up a good portion of several stretches. We came upon our first family of ducks as they were swimming in what was essentially a puddle and the German flag someone left in my bike pannier was whipping around, causing a lot of noise. Since Mother Duck couldn’t determine the cause of the sound, she decided she’d better get her brood back across the mud flats and into water. Once everyone was afloat again, she was much happier.

Crossing the Mud Flats

Out for a Swim with Mom

Mama and Her Septuplets

After the family of septuplets, we passed a childless couple of mallards before coming across a trio of babies, roughly the same age as that first family.

They were swimming with Mama, minding their own business, when suddenly the female of that other couple flew up and attacked her! I’ve never seen ducks fight so ferociously. The drake also came in for a landing and seemed to be trying to run interference to separate the two hens, although perhaps he just wanted a piece of the action. Shortly after the fight began, the interlopers flew off and Mama headed to shallower water to recuperate.

Canal Cleanup Time?

Baby Ducks


Action Shot

Trio of Little Ducklings

A couple hundred feet up the bank, Mom Duck and her three older ducklings were waddling along. Because these ducklings were out of the water, they seemed so much fuzzier than their swimming counterparts.

Saturday Stroll with Mom

Hanging out on Shore

Half Grown

Adolescent Ducklings

While we were looking at this latest family, Mama Duck disappeared. Neither Rudi nor I saw her fly off, but suddenly her trio of babies were peeping frantically, huddled alone by the side of the canal. Mom hustled her three into the water and swam upstream and we could see Mother and her septuplets swimming downstream, but none of them got close to the triplets. Rudi and I were concerned that perhaps Mama had been injured in her fight and stood on the towpath feeling utterly helpless. What to do?

Ultimately, though, Mama returned, flying upstream from somewhere closer to town. We weren’t sure if it was Mama or the interloper female at first, but the babies raced to her and stopped their distressed peeps, so we figured all was well.

And just to prove that we saw something more than just mallards, here are two large turtles trying to catch some late afternoon rays. And, yes, that turtle on the right totally has his back legs splayed and is trying to mooch heat off the wall.


It was a good day for an early May ride.

Category: dc life. There is/are 1 Comment.

Awww, ducklings!!!!!!

That turtle is fantastic! I envy him right now, where it’s grey and 35 degrees!!

Comment by Jenn 05.10.10 @ 5:23 am