Saturday, 12 June 2010

She's Brought The Babes!

Once again I have been honoured by a wild Mallard bringing her tiny  ducklings to my pond.  I spotted them late this afternoon.  It is a sort of double edged sword having them here: they are so beautiful, but all of these birds are eating me out of house and home.  I ended up with around twenty-five Mallards visiting daily over the winter, after a Mallard successfully raised ten ducklings at my pond  last summer, and that group then joined up with another group.  I am slightly panicky as around half of those twenty-five were females: I hope they don't all think of a free meal for their babes and bring their ducklings here! I suspect that one other female will definitely bring them as she has been here almost continuously until around a week ago - she is probably now sitting on eggs.  Oh well, if I didn't spend the money on food for animals I suppose I would only waste it on that Canon 400mm DO lens that I so desperately want to get my hands on! :-) I am certainly looking forward to getting some decent photographs of the little blighters, that is if they will stay still long enough.  This evening they were racing around on the pond like clockwork toys, and from dozens of shots only a few were not completely blurred.

For those who didn't know me last year, you might like to read how the ducklings came to be here last summer.  This is the blog post I did then:

"I first heard it in the morning, in the distance, a distressed call, as though danger was close by.  The fields surrounding our land are laid down to barley, interspersed with pockets of impenetrable shrub land that would give good cover to a fox roaming in the light of day. I thought perhaps this might be the cause of the alarm, with the duck warning others of his close proximity, but as the hours passed by the call could still be heard, only it was getting closer and closer to my land.  If it was a duck in distress I knew that I would stand little chance of catching it unless it was completely immobile, and as the calls were coming closer and closer, this obviously wasn’t the case.  After lunch I headed off for a walk with the dogs, still wondering what was causing the commotion.

After a slow saunter I returned and got on with the afternoons round of work.  Suddenly I heard a commotion outside coming from the direction of the ducks area.  I dashed frantically outside to see what on earth was happening.  I could see all of my ducks sitting there peaceably and yet still there was the frantic quacking of a duck.  I raced round to the other side of the barn, and there, trying to get through the gate with eleven little ducklings, was a wild Mallard.  It just hadn’t occurred to me that it might be a duck moving her young, as it is quite late in the season and the weather has been so horrendous: not conducive to bringing forth new life into the world.  

If you follow my photostream on flickr you will have seen a recent photo of a duck that visits my pond every day, helping herself to the food that is always out there for the ducks and hens.  This duck, along with a couple of males, has been visiting almost daily for years, at least I think it is the same duck, as she shows little fear of me, and merely walks out of my way when I go out to replenish the food.  Of late she has only been visiting briefly a couple of times a day, so I really should have realized what was happening.  Her frantic calls must have been to encourage her ducklings to follow her on that mammoth journey, or at least a mammoth journey for such tiny new born creatures.   I opened the gate and the little family trotted off pond-wards.   At last there was silence and contentment.

For the rest of the day the mother and ducklings busied themselves at the pond and showed no signs of moving off to safer quarters.  As the evening progressed I started to worry about their welfare, as they would be totally vulnerable if they stayed in the same place overnight.   I don’t believe in interfering with nature, and I know that ducks have such large families due to the great rate of predation on the young, so I just had to hope for the best for them, and wish them well.  As night fell I visualized a protective sheet of gossamer falling over them, and I asked the Gods to see them safely through till morning.  

As dawn broke I awoke and immediately thought of them.  Would they have made it through the night?  Would they even still be there?  I needn’t have worried: there by the pond was mum and babes, happy and content, having survived to face another day at Natures mercy." 

2 comments:

  1. Cracking shot Kerry, and a lovely post from the past. I can just imagine the noise as she called her youngsters to join her lol

    Maybe Santa will bring the lens ;)

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  2. All very well having nice ducklings around wait till you get 200 of them all looking in the bag of corn, that's what happened to me when I bought Gethin farm, not only the feeding was a problem but all the shit they made, the duck story is after the cats on my website http://www.myegypt.co.uk/index.php?f=data_home&a=9

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About Me

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I live in North Wales and spend my time caring for animals, walking in the countryside, photographing nature and reading. I hope to share, in photographs and words, some of the beauty that I see. If you enjoy the photographs on this blog then you might like to take a look at my Flickr photostream. View my complete profile for links to both of my blogs.