So just to recap, last year we had a duck nesting in our garden and she had 14 chicks. Then a couple of months ago our duck came back and reared about 16 chicks. My good lady missed the new chicks as she went to work that morning without first doing a duck check (you should always do a duck check in the morning) and she was gutted. However, a couple of weeks ago I saw something swooping out of the sky from the corner of my eye and you'll never guess what it was… It was another duck! She landed in the garden and walked over to the same patch (just behind the lavendar) and nestled down on her newly created nest!
So that's going to be 2 lots of chicks raised in our garden this year in a plant bed measuring about a metre deep by 4 metres wide! Unbelievable. I guess we're getting a reputation in the local duck community as a safe haven for rearing chicks. I'll make sure this time I take the morning off when they hatch so I can get loads of pictures and some video of them frolicking around and formation marching to water!
Since moving to a Mac I copied all my old documents, photos and videos across to their new home. This gave me a chance to have a good trawl through the last few years of my life which has been quite interesting. One video clip that made me laugh was the following one of my guinea pigs fighting over a stick of celery a few years back:
Whitie (in the video) lasted a good 8 years and sometimes when I rustle a bag of salad I can still hear her squeaking (if you tune out my inane cackling you can hear her in the video). So many happy memories!
You know, I’m sure I don’t sound that Scottish now. I think my accent may have softened after years of living in Yorkshire…
My friend Ade was on assignment taking photos of black and white cows (strange but true) and since I was there and we found a field full of the beasts I rattled off a few shots. My favourite of the lot has to be this one:
Since I’m much better at taking photos than coming up with witty taglines, does anyone out there have a suggestion for a caption?
Every morning, just before I head out to work I do a Duck check to make sure our little duck is sitting in her nest and she looks happy. This morning I did exactly that not expecting anything to be different, except it was. For one thing, she wasn’t on her nest. And for another, there were a whole bunch of chicks frolicking around my garden!
You can’t see them all in the photo but I reckon there are 15-16 of the little darlings and as before they are amazingly cute. I left the gate open for them in case they decide to leave (I’ve no idea how they’d get out otherwise as with the gate shut a non-flying bird would struggle) but hopefully they’ve only just hatched and will spend another day in my garden. If they do hang around we’ll be able to go in late to work tomorrow and follow them to wherever they go, protecting them from cars / people / cats / meteor strikes. And then we’ll spend the next year hoping our duck will come back again!
Last year we were thrilled to find that a duck was nesting in our garden. She went from romping to nesting to rearing 14 new chicks in a mere 28 days (give or take). We were keeping our fingers crossed she’d come back this year – although since she arrived in May of last year we thought we had a few weeks to go. But while my good lady was doing some gardening she heard a familiar hissing noise and it turns out our duck has come back a month early:
It’s been unseasonably warm this year which no doubt explains her early arrival and this time she’s created her nest so we can actually see it from the window. I’m sure she’s done it so we can keep an eye on her and make sure everything’s alright. How thoughtful…
Shortly after I took the photo above she just about flew into me – I guess spending all day on the nest made her wings pretty stiff and her flying a little rusty. Welcome back young lady!
We got up on Friday morning to be greeted by 13 ducklings and one happy mother duck playing in our garden. They were cute running and tumbling over all our plants, squeaking to each other and staying close to their mother:
We didn’t want to go to work because we knew they wouldn’t be there when we got back. The mother was limbering up, clearly preparing to march her new recruits off to water and out of our lives. I came home hoping they were still there but sadly there was no sign of them – just an empty nest and some egg shells. It was a real treat having them and with a bit of luck they might be back next year – fingers crossed.
Ah well, back to the quiet life – although I reckon we’ve got Goldfinches building a nest in one of our trees so they might not be the only visitors this year…
Update: Okay, so nobody noticed my *cough* deliberate *cough* mistake. There are in fact 14 ducklings in the above photo! Well done to my girlfriend for spotting it!
I mentioned the other day that we had a mallard nesting in our garden and sure enough, around 28 days from her appearing, we now have a clutch of new ducklings exploring the world around them. Unsurprisingly I had my camera on hand to capture their frolicking:
We’ve counted 10 so far and they really are amazingly cute. Normally I only ever see ducklings in a canal or river but to have them in our garden right under one of our windows is really special. Their proud mother is constantly standing guard around them but she doesn’t seem to mind us (she knows we’ve looked after her)! They should head off for the big bad world in the next day or so and we’ll be sad to see them go, but it’s been lovely to see 10 little bundles of fluff come into the world and squeaking out of our lives!
A few years ago I noticed I hardly ever saw birds in gardens any more. I didn’t know if it was caused by too many cats, pesticides or what, but there were definitely more thrushes, blackbirds, blue tits, finches, sparrows and all the rest flying and singing around gardens when I was a kid.
The last year or so things seem to have turned around and there are a lot more about. This morning my good lady said she could see a colourful bird in the garden, I took a look and it was this little guy (who happily posed for the camera):
After wracking my brains for a while I remembered that it was a Goldfinch, and I hadn’t seen one in probably 10 years! I just hope it’s a sign of things to come.
In other bird news, the duck that’s nesting in my garden is doing rather well. After a brief encounter with a cat the other night she’s happily staying put and sitting on a dozen eggs or so. We’re waiting for the pitter patter of tiny feet in the next couple of weeks and are mounting 24 hour cat patrols to keep her safe. Okay, that last part is a lie – but we’re keeping our eyes peeled!
We were relaxing on bank holiday monday when we heard a bit of commotion coming from outside. I went to the window and had a look out to discover a couple of Mallards (picture below) strutting around our back garden. The male was quacking at the female, and she was quacking back with her neck compressed into her body while they were chasing each other around. They were clearly courting!
Like the paparazzi that I am I was straight out there with my camera snapping a hundred or so photos of them, thinking of catchy headlines like “Ducks caught in drunken romp shame!” and “Calls for ASBOs for frisky Mallards!”.
Well, that wasn’t the end of the story. One of the girls next door spotted that the ducks have in fact decided to nest in our back garden! You can see the female sitting on some eggs here:
We’ve read up on what to do to help them out, how long the eggs incubate for, when to expect them to hatch and so on – and we’re really looking forward to seeing some wee ducks coming into the world in our own back garden! I’ve never had ducks nesting in my garden before so it should be really interesting. I’ll keep you posted as things develop!
A few years ago a friend of mine mentioned that his wife bread guinea pigs. An ex-girlfriend of mine once had a hamster and that seemed like a bundle of fun (the hamster, that is). It’s tenacity of trying to escape should be an inspiration to us all…
Anyway, I was offered a couple of guineas if I wanted and I thought “what the hell” and said yes. Being a typically unimaginative guy I struggled to think of interesting names. Eventually I came upon “Whitie” and “Brown and Whitie”. Pretty lousy names, so I then came up with Belle and Sebastian, which is somewhat better (despite the fact that they are both female). However, the first names stuck…
They’re pretty good pets and spend most of their time eating, sleeping and playing around. They have a fascination with anything resembling a tunnel (in that they will run back and forth through one almost indefinitely). They scream loudly when they think they’re about to be fed (almost constantly). And they’re extremely tame and are therefore pretty good with kids.
If I run out of other things to write, I’ll come back to them at a later date…