First Day Mallardlings: Drama at Eagle Pond
Look in large ("L"). Dramatic day; long blip!
This morning was SO exciting: it was dramatic, scary, and thrilling simultaneously. I arrived at Eagle Pond (Gosling Watch 2013: no goslings yet) and I found Mr. Goosle by himself: I stayed close to him for a while ("chatting"/photographing), then I returned to the other side of the pond in time to see a drama beginning to unfold. A female mallard was being chased by three drakes: they all flew off (with her being chased), and when she managed to return she zoomed up into the tree, and then she appeared below in the water with two ducklings! They were tiny (this is their first day); there were more heads visible up in the tree but the two in the water with her were peeping frantically, and she was still being pursued by the drakes. My mother joined me at this point (I left home earlier...) and we watched as the mother mallard clambered back up into the tree via a very treacherous route, and as she returned to the other ducklings in the fallen tree (where Mrs. Goosle is nesting), it became obvious that the ducklings in the water were unable to follow her.
They were swimming up and down and "peeping" frantically; I couldn't resist so was making the little peeping noise too, and after a little while they decided to swim across from the pond to the shore exactly where I was crouching with my mother. Was it because of my noise? My mother thinks not (and I rather hope not). They clambered out and came directly to us! I was crouching and they sheltered underneath my knees! This photo is at 75mm; my close-ups are usually at 200mm. They were so close, looking right at us, and peeping desperately. I (without thinking) stroked one and it didn't flinch (fearless), and then when I put my hand down it hopped straight on. ARGH! What were we supposed to do?! It was such a dilemma: they needed to be reunited with their mother but she was on the island, and they seemed to see us as help or safety. I put the duckling down (it was so light and soft) and both then padded awkwardly away from the water to where my mother was standing, but then she was rather desperately trying to stop their progress because behind her was a fence, then the pavement, then the main road...
My mother shoo-ed them back towards the water, and we then had an agonising 15 minutes while they strayed from the reeds to the water, then were chased by a drake so returned to the reeds, then when they finally made it back to the island they were chased off by a coot...
Eventually we had to go (I was meeting a friend for coffee), but it was so hard. We couldn't help, but they had still not found their mother. They were on the same island as her, but she didn't seem to hear their cries.
We returned this afternoon, and I had a wonderful hour and a half photographing the mother and her 5 ducklings in the bright sunshine, and I just hope that the 5 in her clutch includes the two from this morning. There were no others to be seen.
So, here are the two ducklings (this was the last photo I took before stroking the front one, and then having it jump onto my hand). This is definitely not my best photo of the day, but is the photo that feels most special. I've uploaded the two ducklings rushing over towards us to my Blipfolio here, and then a better photo (shame it can't be larger) of two of the five mallardlings in the brighter light of the (sunny) afternoon.