|Mounds of Zoysia matrella (Manila grass) along banks of canal leading to the sea
I was walking along the main thoroughfare Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard in Aruba last week when I came upon an odd sight in Wilhelmina Park.
The tiny Zoysia matrella (aka Manila grass) is a common turf grass in tropical countries, where it is sometimes known in the horticultural world by the incorrect name "Zoysia tenuifolia". It is in the subfamily Chloridoideae and forms thick beautiful sod using both aboveground stolons and underground rhizomes.
|Muscovy duck strutting in Wilhelmina Park, Aruba.
|Zoysia matrella flowerheads
A really weird looking bird had suddenly appeared, and it was strutting back and forth close to me in what I took to be a threatening manner. In many ways it looked like a regular duck, but it had a red warty face that only a mother could love.
|Zoysia matrella flowerhead showing white anthers and purplish stigma
It was also hissing like a snake, and bobbing its head up and down rapidly. I stepped warily away from it and prepared to defend myself, but the bird simply continued to look at me and bob its head up and down.
Did it have some nest hidden near the river bank? Was I somehow trespassing into its territory?
|What I took to be the remnants of duck feathers next to Z. matrella flowerheads
I wondered too whether the duck had been using the mounds as a nest, because I found remnants of what seemed to be bird feathers on the grass surface. Perhaps I really was invading its turf (no pun intended), and so I immediately vacated the area and went back to the nearby path.