Tag Archives: ducks

Duck Love

18 Apr

Yesterday when he was in the garden, Bunty saw a pair of mallards waddling down the road. Cars shot by heedless of them, as they began to cross.  Bunty contemplated vaulting over the fence to usher them back to the verge, but feared he would panic them and drive them in front of a car instead. Then, a car hit the female duck. The driver had slowed down, but not enough. The bumper clipped her head, knocking her unconscious.

Bunty collected her from the tarmac before another car ran her over, and carried her carefully into the house. She came round as they reached the kitchen, and struggled to get out of his hands. Her wings and legs seemed strong and healthy, so Bunty took her to a corner of the field beside our cottage and placed her on the grass. She waggled her tail, found a place to settle down, and remained there for the next few hours, her head tucked under her wing.

Bunty told me all about her when he picked me up from college. We gazed at her over the garden wall, and she lifted her head briefly to look back at us. In the late afternoon, she perked up and began pottering about in the floody puddle nearby. She showed no interest in flying away, or in walking far, and we felt she was probably still concussed.

Things were looking positive until dusk fell, and torrents of rain came  battering the stone walls of the cottage. I messaged our local bird nerd Gillian to get advice. Gillian suggested keeping her indoors for the night, in a warm dark box, with the addendum that if she was difficult to catch, she would likely be fine outside. We made a box cosy with hay and climbed over the garden wall. The duck was gone.

We got a torch and searched the field, the lane, the hedge and the main road. There was no sign of her. The fact that there were no feathers left in the field suggested she had not been attacked, and had probably flown away. I was pleased, and so was Gillian, but Bunty fretted about his duck. He wanted to know for sure what had happened to her.

The next morning, on his way to the car to drive me to college, he paused to scan the field for her.

“Hey!” he said.

She was waddling toward us, with a drake in tow – perhaps the one who had been crossing the road with her. Upon sight of us, they both took to the air. There was clearly nothing wrong with the duck’s wings.

They returned to the corner where Bunty had first placed his duck. While she settled down to rest, the drake stood on the alert nearby, eyeing me with suspicion.

It is afternoon now, and they are still there. It appears that Bunty has two new best friends. He has thrown them some bread in case they get hungry. It’s important to feed one’s guests.

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Clusterduck

15 Mar

Our handsome new biology lecturer was annoyed. So was I. He was annoyed because every few seconds another latecomer would bang  noisily into the lecture theatre and interrupt his speech on physiology. I was annoyed because I was premenstrual.

“I would just like attention for future lectures,” he said, in his sultry Mexican accent. “I get quite distracted when the door is opening and closing all the time. So if you can’t be here before five minutes of when the lecture starts, I won’t allow you to come in.”

Seized with a random burst of indignation, I called out from my seat at the very back of the lecture theatre: “‘Scuse me! Quite a lot of people have to walk quite a long way across the campus to get here.”

I don’t know why I said that. I didn’t know where any of the students were coming from.

“Is that your case?” asked the handsome lecturer.

“No,” I admitted. I come from three miles away and always arrive early for my lectures. I didn’t let that fact dissuade me from continuing to speak for my fellow students, most of whom I wouldn’t recognise if I saw them in the street.

“I find it distracting as well,” I said, glaring hormonally at two more latecomers who were searching for seats,  “but our last lecturer would wait 5 to 10 minutes after the hour to start the lecture, so that everybody would have a chance to get here.”

In fact, our previous lecturer always arrived late and dishevelled, with no plan of what he was going to say to us, and only got away with it because he is blessed with the gift of the gab.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of material to get through,” said the handsome lecturer unhappily. “But I may take your suggestion.”

The following day, on my way into the Biosciences building, a duck sprang out of the shrubbery and almost collided with my head. Turning in surprise, I saw four more angry mallards wrestling among the foliage. It appears that I am not the only one being swayed by hormones lately.

The males, with their sunshine-yellow beaks, were pecking and shoving each other out of the way in a scramble to be the first to mate with the brown female trapped beneath them. Despite their fancy plumage, drakes are not the greatest proponents of courtship. They were so intent on their struggle that they completely ignored me when I walked up to them. I contemplated rescuing the female, but decided this would only prolong the inevitable for her: the drakes would chase her until she sank down exhausted in some other patch of greenery, or worse, in the water, where the pressure of their bodies might drown her. Here, she looked unhappy but not in physical danger. So instead, I observed and took some photos.

This caused me to lose track of time, and I arrived late for my lecture. I saw with some horror that the lecturer was standing at the back of the theatre, apparently waiting for me.

“Hello,” he said with a smile. “I’m taking your advice.”

He delivered the lecture several minutes late, and finished with minutes to spare. There were no interruptions.

Juvenile Swans

22 Apr

The campus where I study is a landscape of lawns and woodland full of rabbits and squirrels, interspersed with lochans aswim with all manner of waterfowl.

The wildlife can be seen from most buildings on the campus. I love to study at a library window, where I can watch them all scooting and scurrying about their business.

Scooting coots

With spring sprouting everywhere, I have been keeping an eye out for ducklings and cygnets. So far there has been no sign of them, so I was surprised when, all of a sudden, swans with brown patches were to be seen wandering the campus. The brown patches are a sign that they are still youngsters and have not finished growing their adult plumage.

Did I miss the scads of baby waterbirdlets, were they incubated and raised somewhere else – or are these last year’s juveniles?