Latest update: 27th August 2008
Another duck nest this year, eight eggs hatched
successfully on 29th May 2008, the first ducklings in 10 years.
They stayed for eight or nine weeks before flying away. This page has photos from late June 2008
when they were four weeks old, to 3rd August 2008 when the last young ducks left.
Ducks - 2008 Nest has photos of the
nest and pond up until they eggs hatched. Ducklings - 2008 has photos
of the eggs hatching in May 2008 and the first four weeks of the ducklings development in June 2008.
Another site showing 13 weeks of duckling development may also be of interest.
26th June 2008, the ducklings are just four
weeks old, but almost half the size of Mum already. She has started to
them flying lessons, although I don't believe their wings will be sufficiently in size for another four weeks. After foraging,
Mum get the ducklings to swim very fast, while she does the same but flying a few inches above the water. Hard to
photograph, since it only happens once or twice a day, and they are all moving so fast and splashing everywhere,
really need a video camera.
Another view of the top ponds, with ducklings spread between them.
For some reason, the four week old ducklings decide to try and eat the fence.
The family sleeping on fresh straw, I filled a bucket with four weeks of soiled straw, grass and earth.
They've finished all the fish
floating pond sticks again. The small net over that corner of the pond is
to try and stop the
pigeons eating the pond sticks, any that float near the pond edges will be taken. The two hoses in the corner are
from the two submerged Oase filter pumps, the pipe used to a diversion from the filter tanks bypassing the top
ponds, but the entry point is long buried.
3rd July 2008, ducklings are five weeks old, about to jump into the top pond.
Feeding in the top pond, although they seem to have eaten most of the plant life.
The five week old young ducks following mum after a foraging session.
Swimming around again.
Unfortunately, the eight ducks are having a bad impact on the pond ecology,
most of the lily leaves and other plants, most oxygenating plants have collapsed into the mud on the bottom and the
water quality is very poor due to wasted duck food on the bottom. The fish are very unhappy.
An increasingly common expedition outside the pond exploring my garden.
All seven young ducks resting together on the pond edge, mum has left the pond for her evening flying exercise.
6th July 2008, I've refreshed
the straw again and taken the fence off the island since they no longer need
from the foxes, they are sleeping on the water at night, and it gives them more space to move around.
A young duck stretching his (or
her) wings so you can see the blue stripe, it will be at least two or three more
until they can fly.
10th July 2008, young ducks are
just six weeks old, but already about the same size as mum, but she still has
coloured feathers. It's becoming a squeeze for them all to sleep on the island, particularly when parts are very muddy
due to 50mm of rain falling in the previous two days causing the pond to overflow onto the island and lawn.
The young ducks looking for
food, except they've eaten all the water lilies. The water quality is still
the fish to gather around the stream entry to the pond looking for newly oxygenated water.
Feeding time again, I have to refill the feeding rings every three hours or so.
13th July 2008, most of the young ducks now have blue feather on their wings.
Squabbling over one of the remaining water lily leaves.
Ditto. Mum never seems to eat vegetation.
A young duck exercising his (or
her) wings, but not sufficient size to fly yet. When they see mum fly away,
or two perform a similar display. Still unable to tell boys from girls. The young ducks now seem to have adult voices
and some are quieter, so possibly boys. They all still have their high pitched chirping when feeding.
Looking for food in the top ponds.
The young ducks have started racing around the island. They are trying to fly, but unsuccessfully.
Mum nearest the camera, but all the same size.
Looking for food in the shallow beach area.
Feeding from the underwater Duck
and Swan food container. The pigeons get any food left on the ground
ducks get around to eating it.
Having eaten most of the pond
plants, they have now started on the flower beds, although most of these annuals
were destroyed by the pigeons weeks ago.
Still eating the plants
15th July 2008, almost seven
weeks old and the young ducks are similar size to mum lighter colour, standing
on the island), some are
now larger, probably the boys.
Water quality is still horrible,
it smells and is a dirty brown colour. Fish are unfortunately dying almost every
day, unable to tolerate
the water, but I don't want to disturb the ducklings by emptying the pond.
One of the young ducks flexing it's wings, they seem full sized but none of them can yet fly.
And again. The ducks race across the pond flapping their wings, but have
not learnt how to jump out of the water. They also run
across the lawn flapping away, and one did manage to fly a couple of feet jumping over the low fence at the pond edge and landing
in the water. But no-one else has tried that manoeuvre yet.
A rare July visit from an adult
male mallard, possibly daddy, note all the grey feathers have gone and he now
looks more like a female.
It took me a few moments to realise it was not one of the young ducks that had flown onto the top of the fence. All the young ducks
were on the path below the fence, wondering who this stranger was, probably why he did not land in the water.
Flying practice, the young ducks
slashing around, they dive and re-appear 10 feet away, then charge across the
pond flapping wings.
I've had to put a net across the near corner of the pond, protecting the stream inlet to pond where the fish queue up gasping for oxygen
in the water, which makes them vulnerable to the crows, AND the young ducks have started eating the small fish!!!
17th July 2008, now seven weeks old, winding down after flying practice.
Finally asleep, eight ducks take up most of the island.
But one does not want to sleep, and is eating the fence again.
Feeding time, I've found a new
floating Swan and Duck pellet, but they still prefer the fish pond sticks
they've been eating for the
last seven weeks.
All eight ducks on the island.
Very hard to tell mum apart, she is slightly lighter colour top right corner of
the island, all the young
ducks are now about her size, some larger.
20th July 2008, three of the young ducks, no idea what is of interest to them here.
21st July 2008, the young duck's mother has left the pond and not returned, a
few days before they are eight weeks old and officially
fledged or independent. She had been leaving for short periods every day, always less than an hour, but the previous two days she
had left in early evening and not returned until 6am the following morning. So I assume she has left deliberately now the young ducks are
able to look after themselves, although none had yet flown.
The sprinkler was watering the
flower bed and part of the lawn, so all the young ducks went looking for food.
They have started real
flying, only for short distances, from the grass into the pond, from the top pond into the main pond, but one flew from the island
to the middle of the lawn.
24th July 2008, young ducks are
eight weeks old today and there are six left. The CCTV show more flying at
5am, including one
from the island to the lawn, and I hope this one flew off successfully, and was not caught by the fox wandering around the pond at
the same time - there were no feathers and I was not woken by any noise.
Two young ducks eating soil.
The six remaining young duck feeding.
And all asleep.
Flying lessons continue several times a day, they charge across the pond flying a short distance over the water.
A lot of flapping goes on, presumably building strength in the wings.
25th July 2008, the young ducks
on the main lawn about to all fly back into the pond. They completely
ignore the two cats sleeping,
Susie and Lucy, and will walk right past them.
Up in the top pond, not that there's any plants left to eat.
About the fly into the pond again.
They are fly down from the top pond.
27th July 2008, fresh straw on the island and they are sleeping on it before I have a chance to remove the plank bridge.
Four of the young ducks flying
from the lawn into the pond. They've being doing the same short
flights for three days now, one
managed to fly over the fence and around the trees, but came back to the pond when he realised the others had landed. If mum
was still here, I'm sure they would all follow her and leave the pond, but maybe that's why she left early so they could not follow
her? So now the six have to get organised and agree to leave together, somehow.
In the early evening of 27th July 2008, the six young ducks all flew off the
bank behind the main pond onto the lawn, and two continued
to fly over the hedge into the next garden, landing separately. Here is one looking around the new surroundings, he continued to
wander around the garden, finally flying off very noisily from the garden.
The second young duck then
appeared from the undergrowth, wandered around the patio and lawn, and also flew
off, back over
my garden. Neither have been back since.
The four remaining young ducks
seemed stunned by the departures, and wandered around the lawn for about an
hour, before finally
getting back into the pond.
The following morning, everything is back to normal.
Flying lessons continued all
week, all four could fly, and did so several times a day, ignored by the Susie,
a couple of times one duck
would fly over the fence out of the garden, but circled back and landed in the pond when he realised the others were not following.
This bank was a favourite for flying lessons.
The bridge to the island also provided some entertainment.
29th July 2008, four young ducks are still here, but there is little natural food left in the pond.
Another flying lesson.
30th July 2008, the young ducks.
Back up in the top pond, slightly lower water level than normal because one of the filter pumps has died..
The last photo of the four young ducks together, Susie sleeping on his back, and Lucy.
31st July 2008, nine weeks old today, and only three young ducks left. The fourth flew away at about 5.30am.
Fighting over something.
1st August 2008, and then there were two. The third young duck also flew away at about 5.30am.
The two remaining ducks walking the plank.
And doing nothing much at all.
They seem much less active now there are only two.
2nd August 2008, it's time for a
partial water change, so the fish don't have to live (and die) in the water
polluted by the young ducks,
so I empty about 9,000 litres onto the garden. With the lower pond level, it's also time for some long delayed maintenance work,
scooping out bucket full of muck from the bottom, cutting back the pond plants and raising the height the edging shelves so the rocks
around the water's edge are higher, hiding more of the butyl pond liner. The soil on the island will get used under the liner. The two
remaining young ducks find lots of exposed pond liner which means newly available food.
The two remaining young ducks, they remained all day, watching while I was wading around the pond cleaning it up.
3rd August 2008, the last two
young ducks flew off together about 6am. The island ledge is finished with
the rocks higher, and the
pond is partially refilled. The plants are cut back, but the edging near the lawn is awaiting rebuilding.
19th August 2008, a rare
August visit from an adult male mallard, still with some grey feathers so not
the same as the adult that came
back in July, but with most neck feathers gone. He returned a week earlier as well, but only for about 15 minutes each time. I may
have missed other short visits.
The young ducks have not been back nor has mother, but 27th August saw a visit from a young Moorhen, see the Birds page.
So that's now the end of the duck season, they won't be back now until next
February or March when the breeding season starts
again. It will be a difficult decision whether to allow another duck nest, wonderful to watch, but so damaging to the pond and fish.
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