Monday, 21 May 2007

More sad news

It's hard to know where to start as the behaviour of Beaky and the nesting duck, Lonely, has been most odd. Beaky has definitely lost all her ducklings. She has been chased by the drakes so often; her ducklings never really stood a chance. It seems such a waste of life although there has to be some attrition or there would be too many ducks on the river. She invested six weeks in laying eggs and sitting on them permanently, only to lose them all in 48 hours.

What's strange is that she has returned to the deck a number of times now, when she is being chased. It's as if she knows that if we're around we'll see off her attackers. On Saturday evening she returned to sit next to where her nest had been and if a duck can express human emotions she certainly looked like a duck with depression, as you can see from the picture above.

After some time she went over and sat just below Lonely, the duck nesting among my salad greens. During the early evening Beaky's partner joined her and they both sat beneath Lonely's nest. While I was preparing supper I heard the sounds of a female duck in distress and rushed upstairs to discover that Lonely had been driven off her nest but I don't think Beaky and partner were to blame. When I went to check on her later she was back but was sitting next to the nest rather than on it and she look very stressed as if something was wrong. Beaky and partner were still sitting close by. Shortly afterwards I heard her squawking again and saw that she was being attacked on the far side of the river. She hasn't been back to her nest since and we fear the worst; that she drowned under the attack. She has eight eggs and they've been abandoned for nearly three days so it doesn't look good. We still hope against hope that she may be recovering somewhere and that she might reappear but it's unlikely she'll return to the nest. We've left it, though, just in case.

Lonely on her nest in the middle of the salad bed

A hungry nesting duck landing by the pond for a quick meal of wheat and mixed bird seed

On the positive side, the swans still have four cygnets, the coot's nest is progressing well, and the greater spotted woodpeckers are feeding regularly from the peanut and window feeders.

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