Sunday, 2 July 2017

Successful Release Compromised - Litter-ally

Having meticulously planned the release of the 3 rescued ducklings for this morning, all  seemed in order with favourable weather conditions and the mother duck conveniently in the moat with her other 3 surviving ducklings. I carefully and gently coaxed her across the Moat with some floating dried Mealworm which the ducklings love, and kept them busy. This was what I had planned for and carefully took the 3 ducklings from my bag and placed them in the water just 6 feet from the mother and siblings, Eureka, the rescued ducklings joined the brood and I was elated.

                       I continued to feed all of them with crushed Mealworm when the alarm call went up from several adult ducks, and within seconds all the ducks in the Moat took flight and scattered including the newly released ducklings.
When I looked to see what had spooked them, I found a man with a large polythene bag down by the moat, this was the source of the alarm and panic. It transpired the man was part of the sailing club annual litter picking exercise on the beach and river. I could hardly believe what had just happened, for then saw one of the released ducklings on it's own in the water, trying desperately to find the rest of the brood which had taken to the tall grass on the island.

It was unable to get out of the moat and the mother and siblings were nowhere to be seen. Once again I had no choice but to cross the moat and retrieve the shivering duckling, dry it off and transport it back home to the brooder and lamp.

While I applaud anyone picking up litter, it would have been better if the sailing club had informed me of their timing to do it at this most sensitive part of the riverside. The reason is simply that many birds are still nesting in this area and should not be disturbed, and there's always the chance that a nest could be stepped on. What was a textbook release turned into another time consuming drama for me, because of lack of cooperation.
I spend at least 30 hours a week caring for the river birds all the year round. Over the course of the year I remove dozens of bags of litter from the riverside, but not when it's going to interfere with the nesting. In addition, I think the sailing club instead of seeking publicity with a once a year litter pick, would do better to keep the harbour basin permanently clean which is usually swimming with litter, week in week out all the year round. I used to do it from time to time years ago because it annoyed me so much. Eventually stopping when I realised the council and harbour users weren't bothered about it.


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jayteescot1 said...

Glad you find it useful, I am learning all the time from experience. As one species we all have to learn that the world and all it's species and diversity must be treasured !

jayteescot1 said...

to Anon @ 8.46
I must have hit a raw nerve. Having learned over the years I rarely publish anonymous comments, since they are usually trolls or people with empty lives who are unwilling to put their names where their mouth is.
As I stated I applaud people picking up litter, but why ignore places like the harbour basin, often swilling around with litter month in month out ? Like it or not the River wildlife is a great attraction to many people and I do my best to ensure they have their rightful place respected. Trying to rehabilitate displaced ducklings in a sensitive area was ruined because of bad timing and lack of communication, a half hour before or after would have been fine.
The sign by the Island is there for a good reason, It states "Please do not disturb nesting birds and wildlife" there are still birds nesting, they and I were disturbed during a very delicate operation. You would not jump out behind a surgeon whilst doing the same thing !