Beach to Bayou - March 2021
- Story by Wendy Sullivan
- photos by Wendy Sullivan and Ellis Anderson
Bay St. Louis’s duck pond is located at the southeast corner of the Depot District, where Toulme Street meets Union and Blaize Avenues. The current flock of ducks welcomes visitors, especially those with cracked corn, frozen peas and veggies to share with them. There are many entertaining things about the pond.
Currently, there are approximately 12 ducks who appeared at the pond last year. Five white Pekin (domestic) ducks with orange beaks tend to cluster together. They are often found near the intersection of Toulme and Union Street.
Another flock of five brown ducks, possibly Mallards, tend to stay near the small bridge on the west side of the pond. A pair of ducks appeared later in 2020. They keep to themselves but are usually together.
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Establishing a stable duck population in the pond has been an interesting process. Over the last five years, several young flocks of duck were introduced to the pond, but failed to survive. The current adult flock seem to be more resilient and active.
In addition to the ducks, the pond has a healthy population of turtles, which frequently sun themselves on the duck house deck or other lounging spots around the pond. Turtles, like humans, need their time in the sun to remain healthy.
In October, 2020, Slade Fishery donated five pounds of Diploid fish, five pounds of goldfish, and five pounds of small Koi to the Hancock County Beautification Committee for the pond. The fish provide much-needed janitorial services, cleaning the bottom of the pond of string algae. BSL city employee Steve Thoms, Katharine Ohman and her granddaughter, Victoria, released them into the pond. Eagle-eyed visitors will see flashes of gold as the fish swim along the bottom.
The Hancock County Beautification Committee has been an active partner with the City of Bay St Louis in creating the pond environment. The fountain at the southeast end of the pond was donated to improve the water quality.
Steve Thoms supports the work of the committee by overseeing the maintenance of the pond, including monitoring the water flow, the caring for the fountain, and clearing the pond of invasive plants.
Visitors to the pond include Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, who appear annually to expand their family. This year, a flock of ten dominated the pond. They have been unsuccessful so far this year in ousting the pond’s host flock.
In 2019, a small alligator was discovered in the overflow drain near Toulme Street. The gator was not a real threat to anyone at that time because of its small size, but it was eventually relocated to a more suitable location.
Occasionally, Great Blue Herons appear along the pond shore, allowing a glimpse of the grace and beauty of these majestic birds. They rarely stay long, so seeing them is a special delight.
If one looks in the trees around the pond, huge birdhouses attempt to lure colorful Wood Ducks to take up residence. So far none have arrived, but there are high hopes.
The pond also draws a variety of human visitors to its shores. Grandparents and parents bring children to participate in that age-old tradition of feeding ducks as celebrated around the country. (A gentle reminder – bread is not healthy for ducks).
Dog walkers make daily treks around the pond, with most remembering to clean up after their pets. Youth lounge in branches of the live oak along the railroad tracks, solving the problems of the world. And occasionally, weddings are held beneath that spacious oak.
Tables and benches around the pond lead to relaxing pond-side picnics. Only two blocks from the coast, there is often a cool breeze, creating that perfect combination of warmth with relief.
A visit to the Depot District duck pond rarely disappoints.