Friday, 22 May 2015

Mandarin duck brings her babies

One of the mandarin ducks brought her ducklings to see us on Wednesday.  There were nine of them to start with but she was down to seven yesterday evening.  She has decided to use the empty nest box on the river for the night and once she has ushered them into the box and followed them in, her mate stands guard for a while at the entrance to the box. She has done this for the last two nights, which is great, but there is now a complication.  I discovered yesterday that a duck has laid two eggs in the nest!  A pair of tufted ducks has been hanging around so I think the egg is probably theirs.

Mandarin duck with her newly hatched ducklings

Unfortunately one egg was broken when I checked the box yesterday afternoon.  I'm not sure whether it was broken accidentally by the mandarin ducklings and their mum or whether a magpie or crow has discovered the eggs.  There is also a third possibility in that the coots are fiercely protective of their own nest close by and have been 'inspecting' the box rather aggressively.  I decided to remove the broken egg as it would have made the box smell terrible after a couple of days. I also added more straw to hide the remaining egg.  When I peeped inside the box late this morning I was pleased to see that there are now two unbroken eggs and the additional straw has provided good cover and also an extra layer of protection.

One of the seventeen male mandarin ducks that visit daily

I should imagine it won't be long before another family of ducklings arrives on the scene but we shall have run out of accommodation if the coot doesn't hurry up and hatch its brood.

I haven't seen Flare Tail's ducklings for some days but she may still have at least one as she is in the habit of flying in twice a day to wolf down some wheat before flying off again.  I think that if she had lost all her ducklings she would remain in the area for much longer.  I do hope I'm right and not being unduly optimistic. 

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