Why Do Ducks Nest So Far From Water?
Does it seem an odd question, ‘Why do ducks nest so far from water? If so, let me explain. When we moved into our bungalow in Friars Cliff, neighbours told us about the duck. It seems she had appeared each year, suddenly, in the garden with a vibrating mass of ducklings surrounding her. Mimicking each other, the ducklings moved like a shimmering pool of feathers, constantly calling. They had dropped out of the conifer hedge, which is about 12 feet high.
Cue last year, 25th April and weird noises in the garden. I find the female with a dozen ducklings. The internet tells me they need the insect life which can only be found on water. I herd them down the side passage and up the street. She, the duck, seems to know where she wants to go so I just follow. The gulls, sensing a quick snack, line up along the rooftops, watching. The duck dives into a large shrubbery, spreads her wings over the ducklings, and refuses to move. I never saw them again. In the following days, I searched the small stream up the road and the pools about a mile away; no sign of them.
Why Do Ducks Nest So Far from Water?
Cue this year 13th April and our new neighbour rings to say there are ducks in her garden. We muffle up for the cold, four of us, and herd them out into the street. We decide on Steamer Point Nature Reserve and the duck is not consulted. It’s a half mile herd, which fascinates local walkers, and as soon as she, the duck, saw the stream, they were in. Safe? I have checked for two days and not a sign of them. In a few years, I will also have to worry that the sea eagles will get them.
I decided there was no point in consulting my pagan ancestor Zuri. Duck will have been on her menu in 2200 BC but what about the ducklings? Apparently, they quickly imprint themselves on humans, especially when just out of the nest. Is it possible that in prehistory they raised them in captivity? If so, the duck a l’Orange would have been duck a l’crab apple.
Praise the Duck
The RSPB suggests that the mallard nests from mid March but this one was much earlier. She laid at least 15 eggs, say one each day for 15 days. She then had to incubate them for 28 days. She would leave the nest only for short periods to feed. That 43 day period began no later than the 1st March. This was just after that warm spell at the end of February. We can see the hedge from our windows and saw her just once over that period. How clever is that. As for the drake, after mating, he buggers off and joins his mates for a quick moult. That reminds me of my father.