Guerilla Warfare in the Park

Author photo: Mama Mallard choosing to avoid face-off between Papa & mean Coot

Seeking a break from domestic and international warfare, this reporter visited Mountain Lake Park, definitely one of San Francisco’s loveliest. (And my all-time favorite.)

Though Mallard ducklings have been spotted on other local lakes, none were in evidence on Mountain Lake. Possibly because there was a red tail hawk swooping around in the nearby treetops, scoping out targets for his repeated dive-bomb attacks. (The hawk moved too fast for an amateur iPhone photographer.)

Mama and Papa Mallard, meanwhile, were playing it cool. Had they camouflaged the babes somewhere ashore? They were being confronted by a local coot, member of the meanest guerilla band on the lake. Mama & Papa Mallard undoubtedly know that mean coots take particular pleasure in pecking small ducklings who dare to enter coot-controlled waters. Today featured only a preliminary skirmish among adults.

Nature seeks peace.


  1. I sometimes watch the eagles duck hunting on the lake. He seems to toy with them, watching them scatter as he swoops down to separate a weak one. When he tires of his play, finally catches his dinner and flies to the nest to feast, the ducks gracefully rejoin the flock and go on about the business of finding their own dinner. I often wish I could be more like the duck, just forget the eagle and the loss and simply move on.

    1. I’m sure there is something REALLY profound here: Are we meant to ignore the eagle and move on, or to listen closely for whatever Mother Nature is teaching us? (Rev Nichol might have that answer.) Anyway, I love your thought process, and will process this further. Love to you & all from CA, and from my lake to yours!

  2. Lovely lady Fran, Another snippet of life so well described that the inner peace seeps through your pen and deposits itself upon my soul. Coot chicks are one of my favorites, being so colorful and unlike their parents. I did observe an adult swimming peacefully with 2 chicks until a 3rd chick surfaced nearby. The adult grabbed the new chick by the neck and forced it under water several times before swimming away with 2 chicks leaving the lifeless body floating in the duckweed. Nature seeks balance.

    1. I’m going to mull that over. Coots murdering in Mother Nature’s name? Oh my. But they ARE mean! A great deal of profundity going on with this story (see comment from Florida Faithful Reader sgalbre.) Xoxoxo

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