Croydon Ducks - Ducklings - 2009

Latest update: 10th May 2009

Another duck nest this year, much earlier than last year, with 11 eggs, eight of which hatched on 11th April 2009. This page has photos of the first four weeks of the ducklings lives.

Ducks - 2009 Nest has photos of the nest and pond up until they eggs hatched. Young Ducks - 2009 has photos of the ducklings from four weeks old in early May, until they left in mid June 2009.

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8am on 11th April 2009, still raining.  She is sitting high in the nest, one duckling head can just be seen lower left.  But they've not been
let out of the nest yet so I don't know how many have hatched.

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8.10am A rogue male duck returns looking for food, but I force him to fly away.

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8.20am  The rogue male has returned and forced the female to fly away from the nest, allowing the newly hatched ducklings to leave the
nest, although clearly not all the eggs have yet hatched.  But the ducklings have spent sufficient time drying off under mum for their
feathers to now be water proof in the rain and water.

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8.20am  The ducklings start escaping on their own through the island fence into the water.

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And the ducklings swim away from the island, without mum.  The crow is sitting on the branch above the pond, and will try and steal
unprotected ducklings, he flew away with at least two toads last week.

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The ducklings congregate together for safely, finally swimming over the ledge. Sorry for the quality of many of these photos, it's still
raining and overcast, so slow shutter speed means blurry photos.

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8.27am, Mum and the rogue male fly back into the pond, and she heads straight for the ledge where eight ducklings are waiting.

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She is now pleased and quacks loudly at the rogue male, who I now force to fly away from the pond, again.

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Mum immediately leads the ducklings back on the island and into the nest.

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8.30am, safely back at the nest. 

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Mum still wants to incubate the final three eggs in the nest, which is now shared with the eight ducklings.

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9.30am For the first time this year, three males fly into the garden together, really bad timing.  They don't seem to be her mates, and
may even be three of last year's ducklings since they follow each other closely.

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I feed bread to the three ducks, and they fly away.  But one or two keep coming back for more food.

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2.15pm, it's stopped raining and mum leads the ducklings into the pond for the second time.  This now becomes a regular event, about
once an hour, typically 15 minutes of foraging and 45 minutes back in the nest, but sometimes they spend up to an hour foraging.

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The eight ducklings following mum.

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She is feeding on bread in the water, but the ducklings are looking for simpler food.

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Still foraging.

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Time to look elsewhere.

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On their favourite ledge.

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The duck and fish feeding rings, protected by a net to try and stop the pigeons eating the food.  This year they are getting a mixture of
Pettex floating pond stick for fish, and Wild Things swan and duck floating pellets.  I have about 30kg stored for feed them for the next
eight to 10 weeks, before they all fly away.

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The ducklings return to the nest about 2.30pm.

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Mum normally sits on the ducklings, but not at this moment.

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Later, feeding again. Unfortunately, sitting on the feeding rings releases the food to float around the pond, where the pigeons and crows
can get it.

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13th April 2009, 9.30am, still only eight ducklings and three eggs in the nest, still raining and dark.

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Following mum around.

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And back into the nest.  I've used a net to drop some fresh straw onto the island, which she later re-arranges around the nest. Hourly
foraging started at about 7am and continued until the evening.

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13th April 2009, still only eight ducklings, first foraging was 6.15am for one hour.  Two males had to be bribed with bread to leave the pond.

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Eating again.

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Back on the island ledge, lots of food sticks and pellets floating around.

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The sun finally comes out late in the morning, ducklings exploring the stream between the two ponds, watched by dad.

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The stream is always popular for food, there's a lot of algae and sludge worms. It's rare for a duck to climb the stream due to the water
flow, they often slide down it.

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Mum has taken the ducklings up to the small filtration pond, where there is food the fish in the big pond can not get at.  The two filter
tanks empty into the top pond, where sediment settles on the bottom.

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The ducklings escaping back down to the main pond. Last year one duckling disappeared, probably caught by a cat at the top pond, so
this year there is new fence around it. 

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Feeding again.

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The ducklings now lead, and mum follows.

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This corner of the pond is in sun, and the ducklings are out onto the new lawn.

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There are cats and other animals around, so sitting on the main lawn can be dangerous.

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Back in the pond eating.

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Still 13th April 2009, in the afternoon  walked the plank out onto the island, removed a bucket full of old damp leaves and straw from the
nest, and replaced it with dry leaves and straw, opened up to give the growing ducklings more space in the nest.  But the sun is still out, so
they sunbathe instead. There are two cold eggs left in the nest, I saw the duck eating the third earlier in the day.

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Leaving the nest for more foraging.

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14th April 2008, eight ducklings are now three days old, and follow the early morning sun to keep warm.

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Climbing the stones around the stream is always fun.

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Most of the time the ducklings still sleep underneath mum, either in the nest or on grass on the island or main lawn.

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But twice a day, once mum thinks the ducklings have settled, she flies away for some exercise, initially for just a few minutes, but it
will get longer.  Unfortunately, various male ducklings are on surrounding roof tops waiting for her to fly away, and usually return with her
to the pond, causing trouble.

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15th April 2009, four days old, they have just been forced out of the pond by marauding males.

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Back onto the island.

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Exploring the new lawn. Fortunately the cats are not showing any interest in the ducklings this year.

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Just returning from the top pond.

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Mum has flown off again, leaving them sleeping.

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But returns with two males, who are fighting on the lawn.

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One is pecking at the chest feathers on the other.

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Mum feels threatened when both are in the pond, I usually try and force the males to fly away.

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Calmed down again.

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Still foraging.

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But now exploring the lawn again.

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While the two males continue to peck each other on the house roof.

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There are at least three males around, maybe more,

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18th April 2009, eight ducklings are now one week old.  There's been heavy rain for two days so the lawn in soaking which makes it easy
for the ducklings to catch worms, I've seen two eating worms. One of the males, I assume her mate, has now also taken up day time
residence in the pond as mum's protector, sleeping on the end of the island and fighting other males that try to get onto the island.  This
did not happen last year, mum was left on here own.

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Eight ducklings sleeping on the lawn.

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And back feeding, the feeding rings are supposed to stop the pellets floating around the water, but they just sit on them.

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Returning to the nest, which has more fresh dry straw, after two days of rain.

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Slowly settling down.

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And finally climbing back under mum.

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Late in the afternoon, all sleeping in the sun. Ducks sleep on one leg, with the head resting on the back, with eyes opening and closing
about once a second.

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19th April 2009, they move around the pond to follow the sun, here sleeping with her mate and protector.

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Back in the nest, but they are growing so fast they will not fit under mum for much longer.

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20th April 2009, sleeping on the main lawn.

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And now beside the stream.

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21st April 2009, at lunchtime four males arrive in the pond and start chasing mum and the ducklings, and each other.

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To avoid being jumped by a male, mum always leaves the pond, usually into this corner by the fence, while her mate tries to protect
her in the water.

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But there's a risk from cats by the fence, so it's safer in the water, but still quacking very loud.

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One male has flown, but three are still here, so having photographed them, I chase them away.

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22nd April 2009, 11 days old, getting more adventurous, they keep wandering around the main lawn and sleeping away from the pond.

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Mum is in the nest hole, the ducklings are all on straw, while her mate continues to offer protection.

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6pm in the evening, the fox comes looking for food early and is watching the ducklings on the water, where they are safe. The fox came
back two hours later, just after I'd put out some food for it, but a neighbour's cat got to it first, so the fox was barked loudly to try and
frighten the cat away, but finally the cat chased the fox, who was then able to come back and finish the food. 

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Mum mate is getting good at keeping other males away from her. 

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23rd April, the ducklings wash themselves after feeding.

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The ducklings now associate me with food, take an interest when they see me approach the pond. 

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The second make is behaving himself and not attacking mum.

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Emptying the feeding rings.

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Again the ducklings come rushing down the lawn when I approach with food.

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Back into the pond.

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25th April, ducklings are two weeks old, the family all sleeping.

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Getting back into the island and eating the mint leaves.  They are now too large to fit through the fence, so have to go around the island.

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Too large to sleep under mum.

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26th April, getting more independent.

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Following the sun around the pond.  

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27th April, early morning the ducklings come rushing down the lawn for the first feed of the day.

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And later go exploring around the garden.

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And chasing across the lawn, still less than three weeks old but looking like ducks.

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And eating lettuce, instead of my pond and garden plants.

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The ducklings are now so large they could no longer fit through the mesh in the island fence, so I removed it and added fresh straw.
They can no longer all fit in the nest hole either.

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Four males arrive, I give them bread to try and entice them away, but they show less interest than the pigeons.  At least they are
well behaved, staying out of the water.

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Nevertheless, the ducklings and mum hide at the other end of the pond, some out of the water.

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I think the left hand male is her main mate, since he's lost some brown feathers due to being pecked by another duck, the right most
looks like her second mate, less brown.

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2nd May, ducklings three weeks old today, and now with the distinctive duck profile. Her mate is here most of the day.

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And all sleeping on the island.

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Seeing me approach the pond, they all swim toward the empty feeding rings, waiting for food.

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The water is a horrible brown colour, but reasonably clear and does not yet smell like last year. 

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Early morning again, waiting for bread and greens.

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The ducklings size is such they now have little to fear from predators, and often sleep away from the pond.

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4th May,  returning to the island after eating.

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5th May, 6.30am, the ducklings have spent 90 minutes since dawn emptying the pond of anything edible left over from the previous day
and are now waiting for fresh food, after which they'll sleep for two hours. 

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Patrolling the lawn. 

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The next morning, waiting to be fed again. Mother's partner is still here.

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Settling down in the morning sun.

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7th May, even further down the lawn for the early morning feed. I planted the flower bed the previous weekend, and the ducklings started
trying to eat them within 30 minutes, but the high fence (from the island) at the end, and the lower fence around the bed seem to have
keep the ducklings and pigeons off the plants.

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Back on the island, they still sleep together, although one is in the nest hole.  Their waste smells and mans the straw has to be changed
twice a week.

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8th May, early evening, three boys come back together looking for food, this happens about once a day.  Mum tries to keep out of the way.

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But the ducklings are getting more aggressive.  One duckling chased an adult duck down the lawn, another pecked an adult on the behind
just as he got out of the water, making him jump.

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Still foraging in the early evening sun.

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Returning to the island.

Young Ducks - 2009 has photos of the ducklings from four weeks old in early May, until they left in mid June 2009.


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