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"On Wings of Passion"

         Hardcover Book

                Volume 1

    (Click here for information)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's New

Spring is in the Air

The studio and the house I live in, which is situated in Carmel Valley, Ca. has a nice size pond on its property, which by this time of the year is buzzing with the sights and sounds of all kinds of creatures. Blue herons, frogs, goldfish, tadpoles, minnows and of course mosquito’s, are making the pond their home. By the time summer comes along, the minnows will have eaten the mosquito larvae, the goldfish the tadpoles, the frogs the minnows and the blue heron will have eaten both the frogs and the goldfish….. Not all of them of course, and at least one mosquito escapes from this ‘survival of the fittest’ ritual, finds its way to my studio and stings me right on the fore head.

Early in April, I spotted a couple of mallard ducks in the pond, which set me to thinking. What if I were to make a duck’s nest in a hurry in the hope that the female duck would consider laying her eggs in my ‘artistic’ re-enactment of a duck’s nest? (Hoping she didn’t make a nest somewhere else already…)

In my native country Holland, where we have a plethora of ducks because of all the waterways, I remember seeing duck’s nests (eendenkooien) build out of reed plants situated on poles in the center of a lake or a pond, so that land animals at least will have a hard time getting to it.

 

 

Click on images to enlarge

 

I decided to make a wooden platform, (including steps), that I could anchor to the bottom of the pond with a chain and something very heavy attached to it. For the ‘nest’, I used an old laundry basket, removed the handles, turned it upside down, customized it with an entrance for the duck, and fastened it to the wooden platform. For the final step, Shelley made up the inside of the nest with straw, (which I thought was best left up to do by a female….)

 

 

With the help of Shelley’s son Chris we placed the heavy anchor on the edge of the wooden platform, which had a string attached to it, in order to be able to pull the anchor off the platform once we pushed the whole construction towards the center of the pond

 

 

 

 

To my surprise, the female mallard was already checking out the strange construction that following day, and immediately made it her home. Mallard ducks lay one or two eggs a day, with an average nest of 12 to 15 eggs. The moment that all eggs are laid, the incubating period of 28 days begins.

 

Unfortunately, after a week I noticed that the wooden platform was being so waterlogged that the whole construction was slowly sinking. Slowly, the duck, and what I assumed her eggs were becoming part of the pond.

 

Running the risk of catching pneumonia by going chest deep into that cold and slippery pond, I decided to place styro-foam blocks underneath the platform in order to prep it up from the waterline…. This did work.

 

 

 

Naturally, the duck took off during that event, but did return a few hours later, which gave me the opportunity to peek inside the nest….she was sitting on eight eggs!

 

One other time I was forced to ‘go into the pond’, when a storm had separated the nest from the anchor and was blown onto the shore….Oh well, I’ve got to save my duckies! My canvas is already prepared for them….

 

 

Exactly 28 days later…..A few tiny duck heads are peeping through Mom’s feathers to get a first glimpse of that big, scary world out there….

 

 

 

It is nothing short of a miracle to see such a beautiful little bright-eyed creature, alive, standing on two feet, making sounds and dressed in a magnificent fur coat only a few hours after crawling out of an egg…..

 

 

 

 

 

© 2008 André Balyon. All rights reserved