Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Another 'homeless' duck!

It's been another week of predation in respect of  mallard's eggs in box 2.  A crow was brazenly stealing at least one a day until the mallard was left with only a couple of eggs.  I thought she might give up at that point as there seemed little hope that she would succeed in protecting her eggs but the strangest thing has happened.  She has been staying in her nest box for most of the day which is unusual as there are only a few eggs. The other odd thing is that her partner has been guarding the nest. This has meant that attacks by rogue drakes from 4.00am onwards have almost stopped so the crow no longer has a chance to remove any eggs as both ducks are around most of the time.

Mrs. mallard checking that the 'coast' was clear

Some drakes still attack Mrs. mallard when her partner takes a brief break and we do our best to see them off if we're around.  On this occasion her partner was around to see them off and Mrs. mallard looked out to see what was happening. 

Mrs. mallard's partner

Fortunately her partner spends most of the day guarding the box which is quite unusual.  Normally drakes hang around for a while and then get bored and joins their chums!  This drake's devotion to duty has protected the nest from predation by the crow and our girl now has 4 eggs.

Time for a rest and a chat with his mate

A hungry baby grebe

The grebes only have one youngster now.  At least some of the pressure is off the parents to provide so many fish but neither adult is prepared to let the baby climb on its back any more.

A fish at last for the hungry youngster

Mandarin ducks on nest box 2 plank

The mandarins still spend time on the nest box planks and occasionally check out the boxes.  This morning one of them tried to enter the other mallard's box (box 1) and was pecked for intruding.  This mallard has now been sitting permanently for several weeks and is no longer being harassed by other ducks nor by the crow.

Lack of 'housing' has reared its head again this week.  Upstairs on our garden deck there are two nest boxes and one was being used by a mallard and another duck. They were both laying an egg a day and we knew it would end in tears!

Unfortunately some magpies discovered the eggs and started stealing them.  Over two days they took three eggs and we were beginning to think that the nest was doomed.  We tried our best to deter the magpies by placing part of an old mop at the entrance but they persisted in raiding the nest. Predation has suddenly stopped, however, and we're not sure why.  The mallard is now the sole occupant of the nest and won't allow Lonely, the black duck, to enter.  Poor Lonely is now homeless and has nowhere to lay her eggs. She must have laid at least four before she was evicted!

Lonely hoping to enter the box

One morning, when we thought that the nest was empty, Dave put his hand in to count the eggs and got such a fright when a duck pecked his hand.  The mallard is so well camouflaged inside the box that it is impossible to tell whether she is inside.  

The straw you can see strewn on the ground around the box is because the magpies kept pulling the nest material out in their hunt for eggs.  We would put it back and I'd add extra, to provide more cover for the eggs. 

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