Today I was astonished to see yet another late brood of ducklings on the river, a mother turned up with 8 ducklings looking for food around mid-day. Mindful of the last brood ten days ago that were all killed within 48 hours, I was determined not to let this happen again. I have never seen ducklings hatched this late ever, and I know they would stand no chance of survival beyond a couple of days. They would have to survive 10 weeks until they could fly, this would take them beyond the new year, which is totally impossible !
Later this afternoon I headed down to try and catch both the mother and the ducklings. My heart sank when I saw half a dozen women throwing bread towards the mother and ducklings, with seagulls swirling and diving on the bread !
I explained that they were in danger of having all the ducklings killed by the gulls so they stopped and the mother duck moved away. After an hour or so the mother came over looking for food, the cold and darkness was beginning to fall but I managed to give her some grain with all the ducklings close by.
I took the plunge and grabbed the net, but the mother flew a few yards away before I could catch her. The ducklings were easier to catch and I managed to scoop all 7 that were still alive ! They are now safely in the brooder box under a heat lamp and I'm confident of their survival now.
Letting them be killed was not an option for me at this juncture, the nights are long and cold, and there are no insects or food available for the ducklings. Allowing them to be killed would take the total of fatalities this year beyond 100, this is more than the entire mallard population of the river. Short video below