Friday, 28 June 2019

Disco Fosters Ducklings Again

The Trust resident foster duck has done it again, Disco was introduced to the 6 rescued Ducklings last night in her coop. 

At first she was reluctant to entertain them, and sat away from them. 

However after a night together, she came into the aviary this morning followed by her new family. 

Although she has a broken wing and has now been with me for 3 seasons, she has produced 24 of her own ducklings and fostered many more. She is one special duck !

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Successful Release

After Two months care and attention by myself and Disco, the rescued ducklings and some of Disco's were successfully released into the wild today. It was a perfect day and so far the hottest this year. 

With the help of our Chairman Martin and trust  member Donald, we managed to take three boxes with all 23 ducklings down to the riverside. 

The fresh running water was enjoyed by all as they kept close together. There were 12 females and 11 drakes, several of the females are very much like Disco - I hope they survive and thrive.  They will integrate with the local ducks in the coming days. Short video of  release below.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Last Frolic

Tomorrow morning I will be releasing the Rescued Ducklings along with Disco's brood into the river.

Today at last the Sun shines, and the ducklings are unaware of the parting tomorrow. Life has been good for the past couple of months since they hatched. 

The youngest is Lucky the incubator duckling hatched on the 10th of May,  

Lucky is in fact a female which is good news. The Trust has given them all a flying start, short vid below of Disco's babes having a final frolic in the pool.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Ray Gets Company

Thanks to Nairn resident Joss Ward who rescued 5 ducklings today on the Westbury road. Spotted walking along the road with no mother guiding them, Joss waited a while to see if she would turn up. 

Deciding they were either lost or abandoned, she took them home in case they would be run over. Happily she contacted me and they are now safely in the brooder with Ray the lone duckling rescued a few days ago. This is fortunate for him, as he was totally alone. 

They are enjoying a feed and the warm lamp, as they would sitting under their Mum. 
I will try and introduce them to Disco after I release all the grown ups on Thursday, hopefully she will adopt them.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

No Place Like Home

After being fostered out for three weeks, Disco our disabled duck's female offspring were returned to the Trust.  

                        I wanted to make sure they were integrated with the other rescued ducklings before being returned to the wild. The males were released elsewhere. It was fascinating to see the reaction between Disco and her offspring after a 3 week absence. 

They knew each other immediately, and the reunion was joyous. Only goes to show  there's no place like home, even for ducks !
These youngsters are capable of flight and will be released next week along with all the other rescued ones that should all be able to fly by the end of next week. 

All of them get on fine, but when chilling out in the garden, Disco and her 8 babes chill together as you can see. It does prove the fact that ducks can recognize their offspring and vice versa, even after  considerable growth and absence of weeks. Another Bird Brain fact.    Short Clip below, Disco heralding the return of her babes ! 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Bird Brain

Often used as derogatory remark " Bird Brain" has an entirely different meaning to me. Birds do indeed have a brain and it serves them very well, having survived on the Planet a lot longer than us.

Today I got a few examples from my feathered friends.  

Having observed a pair of Pied wagtails for some time fliting around the garden pond for dried mealworm I have been feeding the ducklings. 

One of them has an injured foot but seems to manage on one of them. It has watched me dropping mealworm out of the window, and has taken to feeding it's young with them, flying back and forth every minute or so. This bird has been following me around the town for the past week, and lands in front of me in the high street and down by the riverside. It sometimes flutters in front of my bedroom window as soon as I pull the curtains in the morning. I know it's the same one because of the foot.

                    It looks me in the eye and knows I will throw it some dried mealworm. It's bird brain knows it has made a connection with me, and looking at the pics I think you can see why. 

The right foot seems to have a growth on it and have seen it pecking at it several times. Sadly there's little I can do to help, other than provide food for it and it's brood.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ray of Hope

Yet another duckling rescued today. 

Local man by the name of Ray saw a duckling being blown  along the Beach by the wind, no other ducklings in sight.

He figured maybe it had been dropped by a gull.

Having asked around, he turned up at my door with the shivering duckling, now safely in the warm, eating and recovering well.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Rescued Ducklings Development

Final development stages of the rescued ducklings is now underway, with the wing flight feathers starting to grow. 

                      It's hardly surprising that so many ducklings never reach maturity, they take so long to fledge - about 8 weeks.

The wings are the very last part to develop, and I don't release them into the wild before then, otherwise they fall prey to Black backed gulls and other predators. 

Without a mother, they need to be able to fly away from danger within days of going back to the river.
I've given them the best possible start, short video below.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Disco Saves a Blackbird

About a month ago, I noticed a scattering of dark feathers just outside the Aviary and guessed that a resident garden Blackbird had been nabbed by the Sparrowhawk. 

Later that day I was appalled at the sight of  a poor Blackbird coming close to me for some mealworm. It had obviously been savaged by the Sparrowhawk, and Disco the disabled Duck started squabbling as it got near. I realised what must have happened early that morning. 

The Blackbird would have been worming just outside the aviary and got hit by the hawk. 

Disco would have seen everything from the other side of the aviary mesh with all the ducklings and her protective instinct would have kicked in, making her attack the hawk which was tearing the flesh and skin from the blackbird !  It must have been a violent attack for the hawk to release the blackbird long enough to escape it's clutches. 

Escape from a Sparrowhawk's talons is rare, especially for a smaller bird. 

For weeks the resident Blackbird comes to me several times a day for a high protein feed of dried mealworms. It may be blind or partially sighted in the right eye, but accurately able to pick up the smallest morsels. 

After a month it is healing and surviving well. Both Disco and the blackbird sometimes eat close by, and both share an incredible near miss experience !

Monday, 10 June 2019

Sad Swans

Penny and Duke are resigned to having no offspring this year. 

For the past week or so, Penny has been melancholy, but at last has her appetite back, this is essential for her good health and wellbeing.

                                     Investigations are continuing into the apparent infertility of the eggs. Evidence so far, suggests Duke may be the primary reason for the fertility failure. Other exterior evidence is being looked into as well.    

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Bonding Or Mating ?

Penny and Duke gave me a surprise today with what appeared to be a mating session at high tide.

With the continued ongoing investigation into this years hatch failure, seeing them mating so soon after the removal of the infertile eggs is quite a surprise. 

There appeared to be nothing wrong with their performance today, which makes me wonder if they were not in sync earlier this year. 

Climate change is playing havoc with nature in so many ways. The start of this year was exceptionally mild in February and here we are approaching mid summer, and it feels like November in this part of the world !

Having spoken to Sue our avian adviser earlier today, she tells me that there are still swans sitting on eggs down in the Swindon area, 500 miles south of here. 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Lucky Dip

Lucky the lone hatched incubator duckling is now old enough to waterproof himself / herself. I won't be able to determine the sex for another few weeks. Short video below shows Lucky having a dip and water off a ducks back !