Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dog Kills Duckling

Was feeling confident that our month old ducklings in the river were getting big enough to survive the Crows, Heron, and Gulls. However I forgot about the irresponsible dog owners, one of their dogs killed a duckling yesterday, obviously grabbed, punctured, and shaken to death just behind the Seaman's hall. How many times do I have to remind dog owners to keep their dogs under close control at this time of year ? This area in particular has ground nesting birds, and young that cannot escape a dog attack.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Ducking and Diving

With the hottest weather of the year, even the ducks are enjoying the holiday weekend.

The Runt, her ducklings and the 8 orphan ducklings are all chilling out by the pool.

They have to take it in turns since the Runt attacks the orphans near her little ones. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Still Waiting !

Seems like Penny and Duke have fooled me this year since I expected a cygnet hatch today. It could still happen before the day is out - or she could have laid more eggs than I anticipated . Duke of course is an unknown quantity, and worse case scenario is that he is infertile !

Penny has always taken 36 days to start hatching after her final egg has been laid. This has been an unusual year due to Duke being a new partner and he was ill twice, shortly before mating time. He also may have come from a swan line that takes another day or two longer to incubate, we should know very soon what the position is.

Meanwhile this has been the hottest day this year, after the rain earlier this week the plant life is rocketing . The orphan ducklings are doing likewise !

Monday, 22 May 2017

Runt Hatches Two

My Riverpark Runt has hatched two ducklings.

She laid several eggs around the garden but the gulls got most of them to start with. 

Only when I stuck a nest box under the bushes did she lay them all in the same place. Four did not hatch and appear to have died in shell, but she does have 2 for a first time Mum. 

The big worry now will be avoiding losing them to the gulls and Jackdaws that plague my garden !

Sunday, 21 May 2017

On Standby

Cygnet hatching draws closer, and Duke is on standby ready for the big event. 

Within days we will all know if he has been virile with Penny, and how many offspring they have produced. Considering he was pretty sick a couple of times just before mating time, I will be happy if they even have a few cygnets. 

The lower river ducklings - currently 14 continue to survive and grow. Weather has been very kind this spring and the warm moist conditions now favour an explosion of plant and insect life, ideal for duckling growth.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Hard Life

As always ducklings have a hard time surviving, there is always something trying to eat them. One of our river brood was down to only one duckling yesterday, and I knew it's chances were slim. My fears were justified when It was gone this morning, it's a hard life being a duckling.

However hope springs eternal and we still have 15 duckling survivors in the river plus 8 in the Trust rescue aviary. 

In addition the duck with the dislocated wing has made a nest and laid some eggs in it. 

                         I have no idea whether they are fertilised, or she is just going through the natural egg laying time of year, time will tell. It's great to see her having a happy normal life even with the handicap of being unable to fly.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Penny Takes a Break

After many weeks on the nest, and warm weather conditions, Penny takes a welcome break. 

Duke was on hand to take over and sit on the precious eggs in the final stages of incubation.

Going without food for such a long period of time means that Penny has difficulty in swallowing until she gets plenty to drink and her system working again.

She had a 15 minute break, something to eat, and a refreshing bath before returning to the nest.

The hatching is about 10 days behind this year, due to Duke's illness and fighting off the two earlier intruders.

Meanwhile on the duckling Orphan front, they are now 2 weeks old and getting bigger ! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Colorado Calling

Received a couple of pics recently from Trust member, and rehab friend Elizabeth in Colorado. 

The quality and beauty of these creatures should be shared. It may be the other side of the big pond, but the beauty of the natural world is Universal.

Thursday, 11 May 2017


This morning I was keen to see if the last orphan duckling was still alive, and if so could I catch it ! Having used decoys in the past, I took 2 of the siblings I caught yesterday in a mesh bag to help get it close enough to catch. When I arrived at the riverside I was delighted to see the last orphan alive, tagging along with another mother of 8, although keeping it's distance. I fed them all as normal but the orphan did not come too close so I had to grab the net and circle around as they all took flight. The orphan mingled with the mother and 8 but was easy to single out - it being the largest of the group I was able to get it into the net.  Job Done ! 

After many hours evading capture, this little duckling is now reunited with it's brothers and sisters.


Orphaned Eight

Sad Scene on the River this morning when I discovered a dead duckling floating by, and a group of 8 huddled together on the shingle with no sign of their mother.

                         I was hoping she had been temporarily chased off by the drakes and would return later. 

However 2 hours later there was still no sign of her so I decided that if she was still not around by the evening I would try and catch the brood and take them to the safety of the Trust aviary. 

Sure enough the situation was the same this evening so I spent the next 3 hours being led all over the riverside before I managed to catch 7 of them, but was unable to catch the last one before dark. I will try and get the last one in the morning, if it survives the night. I was hoping to avoid any duckling rescues this season and wanted to see how many would survive without the trust intervention.

The only exception being orphaned or injured ducklings ! The mother may have been killed by an Otter while trying to protect the ducklings, this has happened before.
I am sure this was the first brood of 12 this season which was reduced to 11 and then down to 9 yesterday. They are now safely in the warm of the brooder and will be transferred to the aviary tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Duke Defends Nest

At last a warmer day, and more like spring weather. 

Duke also doing his job today by protecting Penny and the Nest.

 A Herring gull got a little too close to the nest and Duke was not happy about it, so he clambered out of the moat and did his important job, watched closely by Penny. 

Duke was capable of killing the Gull, but only did what was needed to get it away from Penny and the nest.

Pics show sequence of events.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Mother Ducks

Some people think Mother ducks are poor at looking after their ducklings. In my experience this is certainly not the case. I have seen them attack every kind of bird that threatens their young. I recall some years ago when Popeye our resident Cob decided to get too close to a brood in the middle of the river, the mother duck was having none of it and flew at him whacking him on the neck !

Only two days ago I saw the same thing again - only this time the threat was the Heron. If they get close support from their partners they are more successful at rearing a brood, but this is the exception. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

River Of No Returns

The 2 rescued ducklings were today returned to the river. After a warm and comfortable night in the brooder box with lots of food, I decided that I would try and introduce them to the 4 broods that have now hatched on the lower river.

The likelihood is that one of the mothers is theirs, and if not the chances are good that they will be adopted by one of the other mothers when they are all mingling at feeding time. It all went without a hitch and they are now with one of the mothers !

On a less happy note, I was informed by several people of 2 large bags of broken bottles in the river. 

Had no choice but to remove them before any of the wildlife were injured. In particular the swans, since they graze on the stones algae, and have many blood vessels in their webbed feet.

Careful as I was in trying to pick up every shard and sliver, I still managed to cut my fingers in 2 places ! Since these empties were only 20 yards from the bottle bank it is completely inexplicable !

To cap that, I then discovered what appeared to be a dead cat right beside the swans island moat. I had no choice but to remove it to the refuse bin beside the seaman's hall. It has been dead for quite some time and was pretty decayed. I thought initially it was a Hare, but the ears were more cat like, so if anybody has lost their cat in the last 2 months - this might be it. Other than the 2 ducklings, today this really was a river of no returns !