Thursday, May 04, 2006

An engineering problem on Mem Drive

I was walking on Memorial Drive when I saw a mother duck with a line of ducklings following her. She was walking near train tracks about thirty feet below Mem Drive (right after the BU bridge). Suddenly, she turned and stepped over the train tracks. The ducklings all tried to follow her, but couldn't seem to make it over the first rail.

There were eight of them, and they kept popping up one at a time like popcorn. It took about four minutes before the first one got over. He stood with his mother between the two rails, waiting for the others.

The rest of the ducklings ran back and forth as a little mob by the rail, trying to pop over. Eventually, they found a spot that had a pile of leaves and five more of them climbed over that, leaving two behind. These two ran around for another couple of minutes before finding a tie to cross on.

So now we had a mother duck and eight ducklings in the middle of the track. Mom stepped over the next rail, with her little overachiever following closely behind her. The exact same struggle occurred as with the previous rail. After another 5 or so minutes, all the ducks were on the other side. The whole thing had me standing there watching for about 15 minutes. It was delightful for the most part, but a little sad whenever there was only one little ducky left trying to hop over each rail.

Just thought I'd share =) I didn't have my camera, and my camera phone couldn't get a close enough picture, or else I would have some really cute photos.


Yoav said...

Those ducklings are fascinating! When I started working at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, I was at 640 Memorial Drive, that brown brick building right where you describe. The ducklings have been there for years, everyone knew about them, told me, and I watched occassionally. Sometimes they hold up traffic on mem drive and at that busy BU bridge rotary for a long time (20+ minutes).

Eve said...

i was so scared you were going to say that they got hit by a train... wooo... glad that wasn't the ending.

Ilana said...

If ducklings have been around for years, aren't they no longer ducklings? =D Sorry, had to write that.

There was also a whole "valley of the geese." It was freaky...about 50 of them sitting around, chatting or something. Have they been there a while, too?

Ducklings are so cool!!

Yoav said...

They've been there for at least a decade, as I had colleagues working for Millennium back in 1996 that used to watch them.

Moreover, they're actively looked after by the city (of Cambridge, I think). And there are always people feeding them on nice days. They're actually quite a spoiled group of ducklings and geese, but fun to watch.