Sunday, 29 April 2012

Portraits of Alopecia, the red crested Pochards and a surprise from Bidou

 Alopecia poses

Alopecia took advantage of the breeze to demonstrate that he isn't completely bald.  He stood proudly on our day boat with the wind behind him and tricked us into thinking that his feathers were growing back.  Sadly, when I saw him yesterday he only had one feather 'standing to attention'.

 A full on portrait shows the extent of his feather loss

When you see poor Alopecia from the front the extent of his baldness is striking.  What with his limp - he's quite an old boy and appears to be arthritic - life isn't easy for him!  In spite of his physical disadvantages, however, he is still higher in the pecking order than the male mandarin duck with the withered foot, another regular visitor.

 Alopecia looks better from behind!

 The red-crested pochards spend a lot of time here

We presume that this is the same pair as that which nested on Garrick's Ait last year.  They are very tame and have been spending a lot of time with us.  They are driven off by all the other birds, especially the coots and the mandarin ducks but they occasionally manage to get some quiet time to themselves on the floating platform.

What has happened to his beak?

I was taking a closer look at the pochards and suddenly noticed that the male's beak is deformed.  I'm not sure whether it's a defect from birth but he has a small chunk missing on the tip to the right of his beak.

 Bidou on our deck for the first time

Bidou has been with us for about five years now and in all that time she has never attempted to fly onto our deck for food.  The other morning Dave did a double take when he opened the front door and found Bidou standing right outside.  We're used to side-stepping a drake that follows us around and gets under our feet, and some of the mandarins allow us to almost touch them but it is rare for a swan to fly/climb onto the deck.  In the seventeen years that we've been back on the island we've only had three swans on the deck.  One was a mute swan that took to 'hauling out' by our patio doors one Christmas.  He used to sit down right next to the Christmas tree and watch the world go by.  On another occasion a black swan (long before Bidou) decided to join us on the deck one night.  Swans have poor eyesight in the dark and we had to shine a torch onto the river to show it how and where to safely get back in!  And now Bidou, but she hasn't been on the deck since Thursday.

The only other 'nearly news' is that our duck in the nest upstairs is due to hatch her ducklings but we're worried because the river is in spate, running at about five or six miles an hour.  This is likely to prevent the ducklings from keeping by her side when they do their kamikaze leap from the top deck and launch themselves into the river.

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