Monday, 26 November 2012

A wood duck comes visiting

It's been wet for much of the year in the UK and too many people are even now facing the prospect of their homes being flooded.  The river here is very high and flowing fast - pretty much in spate.  Fortunately the Environment Agency and the lock keepers are controlling the volume of water well but it's unsafe for rowers to be out in these conditions and most boat owners only take their boats out on the river if they have to.  Fortunately, there have been a few bright days in London to alleviate the wet and stormy weather.

One of the rare bright mornings last week

We heard sad news this morning for two boat owners downstream from us.  With all the rain and the concerns over flooding, two boats on Ash Island caught fire early this morning.  One sunk and the other is a burnt wreck but fortunately no one was injured.

A male wood duck

This handsome bird and his partner have joined up with a pair of mandarin ducks and fly here twice a day from Bushy Park for breakfast and dinner.  He is quite aggressive with most of the other ducks, including other mandarin ducks, and is very vocal.  Even the thug of a pigeon thinks twice about beating him up!  It's incredibly colourful here when the Busy Park exotic ducks grace our deck and garden.  Usually 3 or 4 pairs of mandarins turn up with a couple of spare males and now the wood ducks have joined the throng.  An old and arthritic mandarin male still visits most days but he is way down in the pecking order and has to wait his turn.  About a week ago he could hardly stand and, when he didn't visit for several days, I thought he must have died but he's back and seems to have recovered a little now.

Four male 'mandies' on their favourite feeding station

Some of the mandarin ducks prefer to feed from the deck and others insist on being fed on the table.  The more dominant males are incredible to watch.  When one of the weaker male mandies is feeding they will either land on its back and humiliate him or fly at an angle and kick it off the table with one of their webbed feet!  Mind you, the pigeon is just as aggressive with all the ducks and sometimes drives them off the table or deck by sideways kicking them or striking them with one of his wings. Unfortunately this picture was taken through the French windows so it's not as sharp as I would have liked it to be.