It has been a beautiful warm and sunny April and both the garden birds and the waterfowl have been busy building nests and laying eggs. Two of the duck nesting boxes are occupied, one by Flare Tail and the other by coots, the same pair that adapted to nesting inside a duck box last year. Meanwhile the blackbirds have been raiding our bog garden for suitable material with which to line their nests.
I'm not expecting Flare Tail's ducklings to hatch until about 10th May but we may have baby coots a little sooner.
We were rather surprised to see that a pair of great crested grebes had two youngsters. Late last week I noticed them tucked away under the wings on mum's back while the male did its best to feed them. He finally managed to present a fish to the family but it looked rather large for one of the babies. After at least half a dozen attempts to swallow the fish one of the youngsters finally succeeded although it took some effort!
The parents present a fish to one of the babies
It was quite extraordinary to see just how patient and caring both parents were. Shortly afterwards the male dived again for more food and suddenly a rival grebe appeared from nowhere and attacked the mother and babies. She dived to escape, causing both youngsters to fall off her back. They surfaced close by while she led the attacker away from them. Fortunately she escaped and swam back to them calling franticly to her partner who soon drove off the rival.