Sunday, 17 August 2014

Ducklings and baby tufted ducks

Two tufted ducks fight over incubation rights

Just before we went on holiday we were able to capture this dispute between two female tufted ducks inside the nest box.  Both had laid eggs in the box and both wanted to incubate the eggs but the dominant female drove off her rival.

Rival 'tuftie' waits patiently at the nest entrance

After sitting at the nest box entrance for a while she finally gave up and left the eggs to the occupant!

Finally she is seen off

While we were on holiday we thought that we would miss hatching day but the female tufted duck was still sitting on some eggs when we got back.  Some of the ducklings had already hatched on the Saturday evening and she introduced them to the river the next day with a little help from us as some were reluctant to leave the nest. She swam off with seven youngsters and we didn't see her or the babies for several weeks.

Mother 'tuftie' trying to keep up with her ducklings

When the ducklings took to the water a second female 'tuftie' was hanging around by the nest box and we guessed that she must have been the unlucky one.

Mum turns up with two remaining ducklings

After about 10 days we were delighted to see a female tufted duck with two youngsters.  We think it was our girl because she spent time near the old nest box and wasn't phased by our presence.

Mother 'tuftie' with her two

The youngsters on the ramp of their old nest box

Mum stretches her wings

Baby dives for food

Mother and babies stayed with us for about an hour and we watched with delight as the babies dived for food and swam around close to their mum.  Sadly we haven't seen her since and as the ducklings were so young it's possible that they didn't survive. 

Mallard duckling

In spite of the fact that three mallards and a tufted duck all hatched ducklings using our nest boxes we saw no sign of any ducklings for weeks and had assumed that none had survived.  To our surprise, last week, on the same day as the tufted duck brought her two babies back to visit us, another tufted duck arrived with four medium sized ducklings, a mallard turned up with two baby ducklings, another mallard arrived with eight (we think it's Flare Tail who hatched twelve ducklings in a nest box on our garden deck) and Lonely turned up with two youngsters.