The New Year’s Eve cafeteria opened at low tide Monday as the ducks made their way from frozen inland ponds to the flowing Quinnipiac River in Fair Haven.
Lowing loons, mallard couples looking for a romantic place to rendezvous, funny little coots, and a variety of their friends went dining along the margins of the Q. Reservations were no problem.
Among favorite dining locations are patches of grass and finger docks and piers belonging to riverine fishing businesses and condominiums along the west side of the river.
Larger family parties are dining along the sand bars on the east.
What’s for dinner? Well, the loons are fishing fish served up in the deeper parts of the river.
Meanwhile, if you’re a coot you’ll be having some algae and duckweed for starters, maybe some cattails and milfoil for a main course, and, if the larder is full, a crustacean or two for dessert.
If you’re a mallard, you will, first of all, certainly not be throwing yourself into your food without any manners. Instead, in your dainty and jaunty fashion, you will not be diving for food, but dabbling. You’ll be tipping forward to dine on aquatic vegetation, a side order of insect larvae and earthworms.
“If inland fresh water is freezing over,” reported Independent ornithology expert Mark Aronson, “then the birds who need open water to deal with their weltanshauug, will move to open water, either larger bodies of fresh water that have yet to develop an ice cap—or as they do here—they move to salt water, which freezes at a much lower temperature.”
“The slow economy means fewer people are feeding bread to the ducks, so they are forced to return to the slow/natural food diet of their ancestors,” he added.