I bent down from my lofty height
as the driving rain fell all around.
He smoothly slid with all his might,
across the cracking concrete ground.
Each body part remained connected,
but he pushed himself beyond his range.
His goal and path were self directed,
but to reach, he had to make a change.
Why poke his head above the surface,
with body soft and progress slow?
Why put his entire life at risk-
his reasoning, I had to know.
I heard him give a wormly cry,
‘Leave the comfort of the earth!
You’ll won’t succeed unless you try-
choose a goal with real worth!’
A few weeks ago I went for a walk on my university campus. It’s set in the middle of Trent Country Park so there’s a beautiful beech forest, and plenty of interesting flora and fauna about. I passed the pond full of placidly swimming ducks, as I made my way back to the main building. Then I did a double take. Bobbing around in the water, pottering around the bank, were the strangest looking ducks I’d ever seen. They looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland, or the way a child would design a duck – wacky, bright orange sails for wings and white painted eyebrows.
I stood for a while, trying to figure out if I’d ever seen them before. The clouds rolled over, and it was almost a mystical moment. These strange creatures, from another world, appearing, like magic in a North London pond. I vowed to come back and photograph them, and solve the mystery.
Long story short. I came back a week later and there was no sign of them. Only plain old mallards, who couldn’t give me any useful information. I was disappointed, and put it down to coursework induced hallucination.
But! Today they were back! I’m not mad! I ran over to them in delight, getting some funny looks from passing joggers. When I got home and showed the pictures to my brother, he took out a bird book we have, and looked them up. It turns out they are Aix galericulata, the Mandarin duck. They come from Far East Asia, though destruction of their natural habitat there, means that their numbers have dramatically decreased. They exist in Britain because of escaped pairs from exotic bird collections, and they number about 7,000 here now. However, they’re not protected, because they’re not a native species.
A happy mystery solved. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking up books on linguistics and body language, and taking photos of the annual daffodil carpet that springs up on campus.