Latest update: 2nd July 2013
Photos from the garden in 2013 of visiting mallard ducks and the new duck
nest. The duck started laying eggs about 22nd March 2013,
while it was snowing, but the duck abandoned the nest, probably due to continued cold weather in April. She did try to lay again in May
but the crows stole the eggs.
Older Photos of Garden Ducks - 2012
5th March 2013, first visit by Mallards this year, quite late but it's still
very cold. Two boys and a girl eating bread. They appear to be
regular visitors, since they come rushing out of the water looking for food when they see me. It's hard to tell, but the girl's orange beak
looks the same as last year, so she has probably returned.
Happy to visit the island, which has not yet been tidied up after last year.
When there is a girl, there are always multiple boys trying to mate with her, but her regular mate tries to keep them out of the water.
Two boys by the stream.
The better behaved boys learn to keep their distance.
The ducks can still be seen on the pond, while the fox arrives looking for breakfast.
The second boy looking innocent. Some times a girl will accept two mates, it
happened with the last nest, and two are better than one
at fighting off other boys.
Here beak really does look the same as last year.
11th March 2013, very light snow, ducks on the pond and fox coming for breakfast again.
The second boy has been forced onto the lawn.
But sometimes they all go exploring the lawn, looking for food near the bird feeders.
24th March 2013, snow again. Fortunately, the ducks are very tolerant of Lucy the dog, that is unless she charges wildly at them.
25th March 2013, first time I've seen a duck sitting in the nest hole for
four years. Put the plank out later that day and found she had
already laid three eggs in the hole, covered with just a few leaves, so the first egg must have been 23rd March or earlier, when we had
snow again. It's freezing every night, but there has been no ice on the pond this year, not cold enough for long enough, so hopefully the
eggs have not frozen. The egg shell is one of several hen egg shells I put on the island, hoping she might eat them for the calcium
Evening the same day, three boys some looking for food.
27th March 2013, the three boys usually come for breakfast each day.
I've put some straw and wood chippings around the duck nest to help her build something better.
They come back for a few hours each day, but she stays away from the island
except for brief visits to lay new eggs, most of which I
seem to have missed, perhaps after dark or at dawn.
Three boys are still here, chasing each other around the islands.
The female avoids the pond if boys other than her mate are here, this time
she is sitting on the fence where she can not be jumped. An
inquisitive neighbour's cat is also watching the pond.
28th March 2013, when she leaves the pond put the plank out again and find
there are now six eggs in the nest. She will continue laying
about one egg a day until she has 12 to 15 eggs in the nest, then she will sit on them full time and incubate for about 25 days, which will
be early May.
Wider shot of the nest hole.
30th March 20013, the mating pair of Mallards are coming back daily, but I've not seen her sitting on the nest again.
The problem is too many rogue male Mallards, here two males on the top of the
roof, while the mating pair are balanced lower on the
left side of the roof. If she lands in the pond, the rogue males will follow and jump her.
31st March, there are still only six eggs in the nest, although the
nest has been rebuilt and has not been abandoned. Still freezing each
night, not sure if she has stopped laying for a few days, but these eggs are well covered (except for my photos) in straw and leaves and
should be safe or two or more weeks.
Early morning, three rogue male Mallards on the pond, very hungry.
I've put the fence up around half the island, partially to make it harder for
the foxes to jump onto the island, and partly to stop other
ducks taking a short cut across the island over the nest.
2nd April 2013, freezing weather due to last another week, the mating pair
come back two or three times a day for food, and in the
evening, but avoid the island.
Not very hungry today.
Three boys arrive for breakfast most mornings.
7th April 2013, still six eggs safely in the nest, but not seen a duck near the nest.
The three boys come out onto the lawn when they see me arrive to feed them.
And are quite happy to eat the wild bird food as well, while the crow eats left over cat food, if the fox does not find it first.
Too late, the crow got breakfast, not the fox.
Found eight ducks on the pond this morning, only six in this photo, other two behind the island.
And two flew off before I got near the pond.
Leaving just six for breakfast. The nest is still deserted, but
incubation would have been difficult for the female with so many boys
visiting the pond looking for food, they would all try to jump her.
But the female and her mate are still returning to the pond, not every day.
Not very hungry today, hopefully she will start laying eggs again when the pond is quieter.
Sitting quietly on the end of the island.
23rd April 2013, the pair of ducks are still coming back each day.
They are spending several hours a day in the pond, and some evenings.
It is much quieter now, rarely have any visits from the groups
of boys that were always looking for food, which may be good for her nesting chances.
2nd May 2013, only the second time this year I've seen the duck sitting in
the nest hole. Went out onto the island later that day,
but no eggs in the nest. The following day I found a broken duck egg in the front garden, possibly stolen from the nest by one of
the crows, eaten on the house roof, and then fell into the front. The crows often land on the island looking for food in the water,
and did steal eggs several years ago, but did not find the six eggs that were in the nest for a month earlier in the year.
7th May 2013, the two ducks are still coming for several hours a day and are
mating in the pond, but not seen her on the nest again,
nor been out to the island yet looking for eggs.
15th May 2013, if I don't feed the ducks promptly in the water, they'll come charging down the lawn to be fed.
Waiting patiently for more food.
It's still mating season, so the female is safer on the roof where other
males can not attack her. Conversely, often see two or three
males sitting on the roof waiting for the female to come back to the pond, so they can pounce on her.
It's hard to tell, but it's possible two different pairs of ducks are visiting the pond, the beak colours seem slightly different.
They've seen me at the kitchen window, and are waiting for food near the patio.
Hungry boys keep coming back, three here.
Still no interest in the nest, unfortunately, but we've not seen Mallard ducklings at any ponds yet this year.
7th June 2013, two, three or four boys come each morning for breakfast.
The girl is now only back for an hour a day, probably sitting on a nest elsewhere.
The girl is still being followed by rogue males trying to mate, some will
watch from a distance like this one, others sit on the house
roof and pounce on her as soon as she arrives at the pond.
Surprisingly, the fox is more interested in dog biscuits for breakfast, than duck.
The boys are starting to lose their grey feathers for the summer, and will turn mottled brown.
19th June 2013, probably the last photo of the girl this year, her last visit
was a few days later, and the boys stopped coming
about a week later. They do sometimes return in July, but the breeding season is now over.
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