There once were 12 lovely ducklings…with feathers all fluffy and brown…
For the 6th year in a row a female mallard has made her home and nursery in the quad pond. For the first time she has noticed that we built her a bespoke duck house 3 years ago and she has at last realised that it is for HER and her 12 babies (I know, I know, they aren’t babies, they are ducklings).
Mother and all 12 are doing well and we have great hopes that they will last longer than in previous years. Our record is having 2 reach maturity and flying off into the sunset without a backward glance or a ‘thanks for all the duck food’. Speaking of which there is something called ‘duckling crumb’ which is supposedly the best food for them, especially as the only grass in the quad they have got to peck at is plastic. An order has been placed with Amazon. Hopefully it is not just crumbed ducklings.
Watch this space for updates but be prepared to be horrified.
Monday 30th April
Good weather for ducks?
Not really. Surprisingly ducklings aren’t completely waterproof and prolonged periods of rain can soak them to their skin which, if combined with cold weather, can prove fatal. Happily our own brood is still complete even after the terrible weather yesterday and today. They are tucked up safe and snug with their mother at the moment having ventured out earlier to have a nibble on their duckling crumb.
Wednesday 2nd May
We are sad to report that….
Then there were 10!
Wednesday 2nd May (afternoon update)
LOOK WHO’S BACK!
One minute there are only 10 and then….up pops number 11, now named Lazarus. Great celebration all around. Welcome back little Lazarus, we were worried you had gone to the big duck pond in the sky via a seagull’s stomach.
Mother duck has not been taking the ducklings into the duck house today, instead keeping them underneath her to keep them warm and dry. A quick peek revealed that the bedding in the duck house was quite damp and a wee bit pooey so, until we can get some nice clean straw, we have put a thick pad of newspaper on the bottom which should help dry everything out and make it snug and warm again.
By the way, seagulls do what seagulls do and duck is often on the menu. Just like it is in your local Chinese Takaway. The only difference is that they don’t have another 50 items to chose from and your children don’t rely on what you can catch from the wild (hopefully).
Friday 11th May
Blimey, ducklings grow quickly!
One moment they are tiny scraps of gorgeous fluffiness and the next it’s all eye-rolling and teenage attitude. They seem to have doubled in size over the last week. Tense times yesterday (Thursday) when the mother duck stood stock still for most of the day with an undetermined number of ducklings crowded around her. They didn’t appear interested in food nor did they go out onto the pond. We couldn’t count them very well as duckling bottoms look much the same as duckling heads when they are shoved under their mother. We were very afraid that something bad had happened to them overnight and various scenarios were suggested including a marauding barn owl, avian flu and a hangover. Whatever it was they seem to have got over it and I am happy to report that today all 11 are in fine fettle and feeding well. The mother duck is still keeping a watchful eye over them but they are becoming much more independent and the challenges of adolescence loom large on the horizon. As one of them was heard to mutter ‘WhatEV-ER’. See the updated pictures on the website.
Friday 18th May
Oooh ducky! They are ENORMOUS! A Google search has revealed that we should now start weaning them off Duckling Crumb and slowly introduce ‘Grower Pellets’. GROWER pellets? We may need to dig up the quad and turn the whole of the area around the Tong Centre into a lake…. oooh…. we could have swans and geese and coots and moorhens and ….. okay, maybe I need to calm down a bit but all this rearing water fowl is becoming very addictive. Our resident Duck expert, Mrs Gove, suggested that I got some mealworms for them as the quad area is pretty sterile and only has plastic grass. They weren’t thrilled the first time I gave them the worms I have to say. They were a bit wary of them but hunger prevailed and they gobbled them all up eventually. Just read this on the Internet: “The female duck always makes the choice for the breeding area because she is homing to the site of her birth”. Does this mean that this time next year we can expect to have ducks and ducklings and grand-ducklings? Looks like the Quad Lake may have to become a reality.
See the updated pictures including one of them in all their finery in honour of the royal wedding. Looks like one of them got a bit confused between ‘dressed up’ and ‘dressing up’.
Mrs Susan Begg
(Director of Ducklings)