It's duckling season, which is why my friend Martin Cox says he has been avoiding walking around Echo Park Lake. But he made an exception the other day, and Martin, Madeleine, Rosie and I walked the park, checking in on the wild ducks -- seasonal visitors who this year include northern shovelers, ruddy ducks, American widgeons, ring-necked ducks and Canada geese. And there are the year-rounders, which include the spotty-speckly odd-colored mix-breeds, the muscovy ducks, mallards, domestic (restaurant) ducks, many, many geese et al. Recently, the muscovies' ducklings hatched and were doing fine until they weren't. Their nest was just off the main path near the playground, in some bushes. Martin had the unfortunate experience of watching a small boy chase and scatter the ducklings, which were then eaten by sea gulls taking advantage of their being separated from their protectors. (I've seen the sea gulls massacre baby ducks, too.) As the ducklings scattered with the boy in chase, the child's parents laughed. No more muscovy ducklings.
The island used to be a sanctuary where some of the nests were protected from small children and laughing parents, but, for the past few months, the gate to the bridge has been open every time I have visited the park. Ordinarily, I'd say an island like the one on Echo Park Lake should be open for the public to stroll. But in this case, I think we all get a lot more out of the tiny patch of ground by letting the birds have itin peace.