Life in Newburgh on Ythan

By Talpa


This small group of eider females and ducklings emerged from the haar, which is still with us.

The female eider is truly committed mother who incubates her eggs, for getting on for a month, without so much as a mouthful of food. The result is that she is starving and has lost half her body weight when her young hatch. Unfortunately, at this point her trials and tribulations are far from over.

Once they leave the nest, the newly hatched ducklings are at serious risk of being eaten by marauding black-backed and herring gulls and the mother ducks face a fierce battle trying to protect their young. In an attempt to better deter the predators, broods of young join together to form large groups or crèches which are protected by the joint action of their mothers and by other females, often known as aunts, although they are probably unrelated, who have lost their eggs or have failed to breed for some other reason. This is a very small  crèche, in years of high breeding success crèches can contain several hundred ducklings. Sadly, these days large crèches are a rare sight.

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