Tuesday, 24 June 2014

No peace for mallard in box 2

The mallard in box 2 is being regularly attacked by a young drake, especially in the early hours of the morning.  We were puzzled about this because her partner is spending most of his time on guard at the entrance to the nest.  However, I discovered why on Saturday, after the female had been attacked and driven off her eggs at least five times in several hours.  Her partner is scared of the younger drake and flies away initially when the youngster approaches!  He then swims back and does his best to defend the female but by then it's too late.

Because the female refuses to desert her eggs she is attacked while 'sitting' and some of the eggs are damaged in the fray.  On Friday I saw her fly from her nest with a damaged egg in her beak, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. When I looked inside the box she still only had three eggs. This means that an egg is damaged most days when she is raped in her box.

 Young  coot

Two young coots have suddenly turned up at our feeding station and lurk behind our neighbour's boat where it's dark and there's very little 'bird' activity.  I wondered why their behaviour was so furtive as coots are aggressive birds.  On Sunday evening I saw an adult coot next to one of the youngsters which had its head under water and wasn't moving.  I realised that the adult, which immediately swam off, must have attacked the younger bird.  On an impulse I lifted the young coot out of the river and felt its neck and checked for blood.  After a few moments it started to breathe and then tried to lift its head but it flopped back down.  I continued to hold the young bird and it gradually lifted its head and started to struggle a bit and when I put in back in the river it shot off and appeared to have recovered.

 Only one youngster

The following day I was disappointed when only one young coot turned up for breakfast but a short while later there were two again. I think that the damaged coot is being extra cautious now and only appears when 'the coast is clear'.

Cygnet grows up

The cygnets are getting quite big now but will remain with their parents for a while longer.  The mother brings them here at least three times a day and they are sometimes joined by the father .

I discovered another potential nest on Sunday when I saw a female tufted duck fly up onto our camp shedding and disappear into the thick bracken at the end of the bog garden.  Her partner hung around until she reappeared. There's a tell tale stain on the camp shedding where a duck has left its calling card! I think she's on her nest at the moment because a lone male tufted duck is in the vicinity of the nest.

This morning a female tufted duck tried to enter both riverside nest boxes but was seen off by the resident mallards.  It may be the same tuftie that has been checking out the bog garden but it could also be another female.

On a final note we discovered that the duck in the garden deck nest box is Flare Tail.  I knew she was nesting again but hadn't realised it was her in the upstairs box.  The magpies have finally abandoned their attempts to steal her eggs and the little black duck has given up trying to lay her eggs in the same nest box.

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