Misadventures in wildlife rescue! ~~Peggy

Even the very experienced can fall into a blunder, or muddy pond as in this case.

The mother of 9 baby ducks on a shallow pond, was MIA. We had a crew to catch the baby ducks. The idea is to corral them up onto shore and net them… no big deal. To encourage them to go on shore, we stretch an orange roll of contractor’s tape across the pond, making it go up and down. This often makes the ducks go in the opposite direction. The only problem was that we couldn’t cast the tape across the pond due to trees, bushes and the location of the baby ducks. . My idea, walk the tape across the pond and guide the ducks to shore.

I volunteered. Being the least athletic of the group I left the scurrying capture with nets to the younger staff. It was a hot day, it would be refreshing . Luckily the pond wasn’t deep at that end, 2-3 feet at the most. I could see the bottom and I had walked out into that same pond a few years back to rescue one of my dogs.

I handed my cell phone to Chelsea. Mike held the tape on the one shore. Four volunteers lined up ready to run in for the capture. I began my decent. Solid footing and the water was warm. The new water sandals Barb had my buy just the day before were perfect for this. Piece of cake.

Then I sunk into 1 foot of mud with 3 feet of water on top. I glanced at the ducks and they were heading toward shore. Just a little further and I could start pushing them.

Next step took me into 3 feet of mud with 2 feet of water on top. Ok, walking is a little harder. No wait, I’m stuck. Pull the leg up harder. Fall backward into the water, now sitting ontop of the mud. OK, at least my legs are free now.

IMG_1512Try to get up, stuck again. thrashing this time. The ducks start to startle from this large flailing person in the water. They make a run for it (actually a swim for it). “Mike pull the tape!” We both pull and I fall sideways, my hand sinks into the mud and something moved. The ducks swim under the tape and head to the deep section of the pond. I try to sit up again and a swan is staring me in the face. I order the swan not to attack me. It must have worked because I don’t remember the swan through any of the rest.

I think everyone realized I messed up when I fell again, rolled on my back and an expletive rang out over the pond. Calm down. Don’t panic. Stand up and reassess the situation.

Kat came running and stretched her net out over the water. I grabbed it and she tried pulling me to shore but the telescoping net just got longer, back in the mud I go.

It took more work than these old bones are used to. Unstick my leg, belly swim on top of the mud, unstick my leg. Rest a bit. Repeat.

When I finally reached shore I asked, did anyone get a picture or movie of that? The answer? We didn’t want to make a “snuff film”. So Kat got my picture on the shore when she knew I was safe.

While all this was happening, the ducks left the pond and disappeared into the thick underbrush. We are setting a trap with food instead.