Sunday, 12 August 2012

Winners and losers

There have been very few survivors among the ducks, grebes and other waterbirds in our area.  Sadly our devoted tufted duck gave up on her eggs in the end.  When we looked in the box we realised why.  There were 29 eggs in total and some of them were beginning to go bad.  We're still not sure which other tufty was 'sharing' the nest but it was very sad to see such dedication go to waste!

 Too many eggs for one duck to hatch

It hasn't been the greatest year for tufted ducklings and, although we've seen a few around over the past few months, they are only here for a day or two and then they disappear. We've seen no survivors.  The image below shows one (probably day old) duckling, a one-off sighting, and there were also four young tufties diving for food with their mum but they too never reappeared.

 We only saw this baby for five minutes

For a while we started to have hope that, as the weather improved and the river flow lessened more ducklings would survive to adulthood but, so far, there is only one duck that seems to have raised about eight or ten ducklings to their teens!  The mallard pictured below showed up with six, never to be seen again.  The mink family has been pretty active but I think that the heron and the crows have been extra predatoryl this year!

These ducklings only lasted a couple of days

Below is the only successful mallard mum we are aware of. She turned up with twelve youngsters and then took them away for a while but occasionally brought them back to feed here.  I think the waterbirds are faring better further upstream though, perhaps because the current is less around Sunbury Court Island and other quieter areas and also because there seems to be less crow activity there.

The only successful mallard we've seen so far

HB has been sitting for almost a month now so she may succeed in raising her ducklings.  One of us will have to be around on the day as the ducklings won't be able to get out of the hanging basket as it is too deep.  We hope we'll have images of the event and the ducklings next time!

The only young grebe we've seen in this area 

This teenage grebe is the only youngster we've seen around but at least it has now made it to 'almost' adulthood.  The parents have stopped feeding it and it is having to fend for itself.

The four cygnets are also getting very big now and their feathers are beginning to show signs of turning white.  They still come round with their parents and are persistent when it comes to begging for wheat.  I suppose it won't be too long before the parents drive them away to fend for themselves.  It seems strange, after all the nurturing, that so many adult waterbirds turn on their young when they've reached a certain age!

The Royal Barge, Gloriana, passing our house