Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cheeky teenage mandarin ducks

I was sitting at my computer the other day with the patio doors wide open as it was warm and sunny. I became aware, in the background, of the sound of mandarin ducks, but was concentrating and paid no attention.  A little later I got up to answer the phone and found the three young mandarin ducks wandering around the living room!

The guilty trio swim away with their mum

Fortunately they hadn't left any calling cards so I very carefully headed them in the direction of the patio door.  I didn't want them to panic as they would be more likely to make a mess on the carpet if they felt trapped.  Once outside, they remained on the deck and waited for me to put some wheat down for them.  Meanwhile mum was keeping a beady eye on them while feeding from the container on the deck table.

The female mandarin duck that had four a while back now only has one but it is surviving well and is even tamer than the three above. It taps on the glass doors if it can see me and there's no food on the deck!

Many of the ducks are beginning to moult now and the red crested pochard is no exception. However, he doesn't look nearly as pathetic in moult as do the male mandarin ducks.  They look dreadful when they loose most of their striking plumage.

I haven't been checking the upstairs nest box for a while but thought to do so yesterday only to discover that Flare Tail has laid three eggs and is keeping them well hidden.  I'm doing my best to protect the nest from marauding magpies and the crow as it would be really sad to see the eggs stolen. Once a predator has found eggs in a nest it comes back for them all and we have a large family of young magpies whose parents are doing their best to keep them fed.

Cygnet watches mum preen

The cygnet is growing up but still has its lovely 'baby' feathers.  It copies its parents when they stop to preen which is lovely to see. There's something therapeutic about watching swans and ducks preen.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

More ducklings

Lonely, the black hybrid female duck, hatched 10 ducklings two days ago but was soon down to seven.  She's doing quite well, under the circumstances, as she is frequently attacked by drakes and driven away from her youngsters.  The herring gull has also been patrolling the river at low level to snack on any duckling foolish enough not to stick close to its mum. Pike are also taking their share of young waterfowl including ducklings, moorhens, coots and very young cygnets.

Lonely and some of her brood hurrying away from an aggressive drake

I was surprised to see Lonely feeding from the table where the mandarin ducks like to be fed.  Over the years only three mallards have attempted to feed from there and she's a match for the mandarin ducks, seeing them all off.  I'm delighted to say that even the aggressive pigeon awaits his turn when she's around.

 Our cygnet seems to think it's a contortionist

Proud parents admiring their offspring

Following a discreet romantic interlude the swans face their youngster who appears to be singularly unimpressed.  The family calls round at least six times a day at the moment, mostly so that the cygnet can tuck into some wheat.

Flare Tail has been looking for a new nest over the last few days and this morning was checking out her old nest box and then the one on the other side of the garden deck.  I need to put more straw in that one if she's going to start laying more eggs.