Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The mallard that can't count!

Out of the nest, into the river, and up the ramp!

All seven newly hatched ducklings make it back into the garden

Newly hatched ducklings in Sue & Peter's garden

Several days after taking on the responsibility of rearing three orphaned ducklings, Peter phoned to say that 'their' mallard, who'd seemed quite interested in the 'ready made' family, had just hatched her own seven ducklings. I went over immediately just as she was leading them to the river. After swimming around for a few minutes, she led them up a purpose built ramp back into the garden, where they nestled against the netting placed around the three rescue ducklings to protect them from predation.

The newly hatched ducklings alongside the rescue ducklings

The youngsters were immediately drawn to the rescue ducklings and nestled up close to them while 'mother' rested for a while. In the evening, the mallard led her ducklings to a safe haven overnight but returned with only five ducklings the following morning. To the amazement of Peter and Sue, however, she later acquired four more ducklings! Meanwhile, she seemed drawn to the rescue ducklings and every evening it took ages for her to lead her family to safety upstream torn, it seemed, between her own family and the three rescued youngsters. Sue thinks that if she allows them to mix the mallard might attack the older ducklings, but she might consider taking the risk when the youngsters are a little older.

Half an hour old and already at home in the makeshift duckling pond

Time to leave the nest

The robins in our carport nest box had been busy all hours feeding their youngsters and finally the day came for the fledglings to leave the nest. We did our best not to disturb them but the box is next to where we park our car. However, the birds weren't the least bit bothered by our comings and goings. This one was reluctant to take flight but we assume it managed to leave the nest eventually.

We were a bit disappointed to have no bluetits nesting in their box (also in the carport) this year, or so we thought! Yesterday, however, to our surprise we saw a bluetit with a beakful of bugs, flying into the nestbox. They've been very secretive until now. This morning the parents have been busy catching insects for their young before heading for the nest.

A brief moment of affection

Coots aren't renowned for their harmonious lifestyle. In fact they are querulous creatures more often involved in domestic disputes than any of the other waterfowl. This display of affection, didn't last for long, and they were soon squabbling about whose turn it was to groom the other.

Bidou's nest

When Bidou, the black swan, needs to feed she has to leave her nest unattended because there's no mate to take her place and protect the eggs. It looks like there are four goose eggs in with her own eggs. It seems highly unlikely that these will hatch now and she is spending longer periods of time away from her nest. The mute swans that started nesting at the same time as Bidou have seven beautiful cygnets (photos to follow).

Meanwhile, after a break from failed parenthood, our two female mallards are nesting again. Mrs. Speckles (with four eggs now) has returned to her former nestbox but Goldeneye has decided to lay two eggs in the newer of the two boxes on our garden deck. Perhaps she doesn't like being watched by Dave when he sits at the computer! The puzzle is that both ducks occasionally wander into each other's nests and this morning, the duck siting in Mrs. Speckles' box didn't look like Mrs. Speckles at all.

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