There’s no end to the variety of ducks to be found on the canals of France. And then of course there’s Duck a l’Orange. 😉
These photographs were taken along the Canal du Midi and the Canal Lateral a la Garonne. The temperament of the ducks varies greatly from one stretch of canal to another. On the Midi, at Castelnaudary, most of the ducks tend to live on the large basin between the locks and the port itself. There is a small man-made island there (L’île Cybele) which the ducks seem to have made their own, together with a coule of coypu and, during the winter of 2010/2011 one solitary swan.
Some of these ducks never stray from the island itself, and many townspeople visit the quayside behind the island to feed them. Other ducks, the bolder ones, make several forays a days to the boats moored in the port area, begging for bread. It’s not unusual to be woken in the early hours of the morning by tapping on the hull of your boat, which is the ducks doing an early morning patrol to nibble the flora that attaches itself to the bottom of the boat, particularly when stationary for long periods.
In the spring of 2011 we had the opportunity to watch the development of the baby ducklings around the port One duck had given birth to 12 ducklings, which with a bit of careless parenting was quickly reduced to 7, then 4 and finally to only 2. Some are unable to get out of the water unless mother duck leads them to an appropriate place and one of these remaining 2 was seen close to our boat in some distress, head falling forward into the water, obviously exhausted. The mother was nowhere to be seen. My husband tried to fish it out of the canal using our bucket, but only succeeded in losing our bucket. When he did finally manage to fish it out with his hands, its eyes were already closed and though he did try to revive it, sadly it died. This is why many town councils or port authorities will anchor sloping duck ramps against the banks to help the young get in and out of the water.
The next morning the mother duck floated past with only one remaining chick behind her.
Other mother ducks are a bit more conscientious fortunately.