Latest update: 1st August 2012
Photos from the garden in 2012 of visiting mallard ducks, foxes and other
wildlife. There has
nest or ducklings for the last two years,
and while a female and her mate have been here for long periods this spring, becoming accustomed to the pond, there has been no sign of
eggs in the nest, yet. Fox cubs have started visiting the garden this year.
Older Photos of Garden Ducks - 2010/2011
25th February 2012, first visit of the year by the mallard ducks.
The female has very obvious orange markings on her beak, which makes it easy
to identify her as the same duck coming back
each day, and almost certainly the same duck that was here last spring, although the beak appears brighter this year. Not seen
her at local parks yet, so don't know where she spends time away from this pond.
Getting accustomed to the pond.
Early March 2012, coming to the pond for longer periods each day.
Resting on the bridge to the island.
And now behind the pond.
Females seem to tolerate up to two mates, the last successful nesting duck
had two equal mates for the four months she was here,
the female this year has a main mate and a second well behaved mate who follows them both around but does not actually attack
her. There is a third boy visiting the pond I call a rogue male because he always jumps the female and tries to mate with her, usually
causing them all to fly off together. She probably will not be happy to lay eggs until the risks caused by the rogue male are over.
Resting behind the pond.
The main mate is trying to keep the second mate away from the pond, gentle
pecking only with no real fighting, but quite amusing as
they wander around the lawn.
14th March 2011, six ducks on the pond, the female and her mate, and four
well behaved males who did not try to attack her. Two left
quickly, but the others remained for a couple of hours.
The two visiting boys being chased into the garden by the mate.
Fortunately the ducks got used to Lucy the dog very quickly this year, and
just jump into the water if she runs at them, rather than
15th March 2012, sleeping quietly.
And finally sleeping on the island, with the nest hole behind them full of fresh straw. She has looked into the nest, but not yet sat in it.
Swimming around the pond.
Warm March weather means the daffodils have bloomed.
30th March 2012, exploring the island, unfortunately not the nest, yet.
If the rogue male duck is around, the female and her mates take refuge on a
house roof. The main mate is trying to push the second
mate off the edge of the roof.
Wider shot of the spring garden and pond, with ducks sitting behind pond.
1st April 2012, the female and her main mate sleeping on the island, watched
by the second mate. Still visiting the pond for several
hours each day, sometimes staying all night.
A different female Mallard came for, I think, just one day, with darker beak.
12 April 2012, more male Mallards are visiting the pond and trying to attach
the female, so sometimes she hides down the garden near the kitchen,
they also wait here for food.
Another male has come up the lawn looking for the female, so her mate tries to shoo him away.
The mating pair quietly back on the pond, still no signs of nesting.
17th April 2012, waiting on the edge of the pond to be fed.
Three boys today.
And now four boys.
Out of the pond again.
30th April 2012, the female is still visiting the pond daily, mostly after
dark from about 8pm, but sometimes during the day. Due to the
periods she is here, it's unlikely she has a nest elsewhere otherwise she would be sitting on it. But hard to tell. So still hope she may
use the nest on the island.
Another visit from the three boys, who are eating about one loaf of bread a day.
5th May 2012, one of the boxes eating dog biscuits.
Two foxes are visiting the garden each evening about 8pm looking for food, here eating some bread left by the birds.
17th May 2012, the fox is still coming for dinner each evening, and eating any bread the birds have left.
Boy Mallards are still returning to the pond daily looking for food, some
days just two, three other days. Not seen the female for about
two weeks, so she's probably sitting on a nest somewhere. The ducks are being watched here by Simba the English Grey cat.
It's also fledging time for the Starlings, with dozens of young Starlings
visiting the garden with their parents, looking for food. The
Fledglings are still grey brown, without the black and white speckling of the adults. They are also not yet aware of danger, which
is why Simba the cat was sitting by the pond above. They were eating three loaves of bread a day this week.
31st May 2012, first visit of the female for a month, she initially came back
for a few minutes at a time, but then for an hour or more.
Hopefully she has been sitting on eggs elsewhere for that month, they have now hatched, and she is coming for food. If she has lost
her eggs, there is still two or three weeks during which she can start laying eggs again.
Getting comfortable on the island, but not quite in the nest hole.
15th June 2012, the Mallard mating pair are again visiting the garden daily, often for several hours, but no signs of mating.
They are both very hungry, as are the pigeons looking for food that reaches the pond edges.
Weeks of rain mean the pond is overflowing and the grass very green.
Sometimes they joined by a third boy which suggests mating is still possible this year.
Waiting quietly for more food.
Photo taken about 9pm, the third duck has been forced from the pond my the
mate, to keep him away, but the fox seems completely
disinterested, quite risky for the duck to be on the grass with a fox that close, they are very safe in the water.
Late June 2012, the ducks are still visiting the pond daily, the two boys
sometimes for a few hours at a time, the female usually
for an hour only in the evening. The boys are content on their own, but when the female come back her mate fights to keep the
second boy away from the female. This all suggests the female is nesting again elsewhere and laying eggs.
The female Mallard ignore the two boys on the lawn, but she shovels in any food she can find.
6th July 2012, two male Mallards in the foreground, a female behind the
island. There is less fighting now, so the breeding season
seems to be over.
The three Mallards, the two boys on the left have lost most of their grey feathers and their brown chests are now speckled.
From a distance, it's hard to tell the males from the female. They are
all still very hungry and eating a lot of bread. Visits from ducks
are rare in July.
The female comes back daily for about an hour, usually in the early evening,
but sometimes in the morning. She is always desperate
for a good wash, so I suspect she is sitting on a nest away from water.
About the fly off back to her nest, pond water is very high due to heavy rain
all day. Her daily visits continued up until 18th July, about
an hour each evening, hopefully she is now looking after ducklings elsewhere. We did find two mothers with new ducklings at Brickfields
Meadow two weeks later, so they are still hatching very late this year, but neither were this duck (darker beaks).
11th July 2012, the boy kept coming back each day, but nearly always at a
different time to the female, so they hardly ever met. He
has lost all his grey feathers, and most of the green neck feathers, very hard to tell apart from females now.
16th July 2012, the boy was spending up to six hours a day on the island, but
still never at the same time as the female, last visit was 21st
July, and I don't expect to see ducks here again until next February.
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