Yesterday was too nice a day not to go for a short paddle, even though sitting in my kayak is uncomfortable these days. The lower Mystic Lake is about a half-mile down the river from where I put in. I was just starting in that direction when I saw a mama duck and her family snoozing on a rock in the sun. Cute! (Sadly, no camera).
On the way back, I passed a duck family feeding at the mouth of the river. Then, about halfway down the river to the put-in, under an overpass, I found a baby duck wandering all by itself, peeping for it’s mama. I figured he’d been left behind as the family cruised to it’s feeding spot, so I edged around the duckling, then (from a distance) slowly drifted upriver, making sure the baby stayed on track toward the lake and the mama.
Baby paddled along for maybe 15 minutes, constantly calling for mom (with short breaks to eat, of course) until he made it back to where the group was feeding. I watched as the baby was accepted back into the wings of the family, then, feeling pleased with myself and proud of my little friend, I turned back toward the put-in.
I was most of the way back when I discovered a second duck family feeding along the shore, probably the family that had been on the rock on the way out. Did I guide the duckling to the wrong mama? I don’t _think_ so. Does it matter? Google gives mixed answers. But Google is pretty clear that mama ducks will abandon babies, and that abandoned ducklings don’t survive for long.
So on balance, I still feel good about getting my intrepid little traveler home.