This weekend wonderful, long suffering hubby fenced off a section of our little field so that I could do a strategic move around of the birds & reclaim the back garden before it got totally trashed by scavenging hens & ducks! Twice injured ex-battery hen Jess had healed up again & re grown some neck feathers, but I wasn't feeling confident enough to put her in with the rest of the hens. Puddles the Khaki Campbell duck was much recovered from the unwanted & rather rough attentions of Seymour the Aylesbury, but it was pointless putting her back in the field with him still on the prowl. The rescued Mallard ducklings had adopted Puddles as surrogate mum, so where ever she went the ducklings would want to go. What was best to do so that every bird's welfare was catered for? Well, after a bit of head scratching a plan was hatched, birds were caught & after a few ruffled feathers & surprised squawks a slightly puffed out eldest son & I had got it all sorted. Seymour was moved into the sectioned off area with his own mate Daisy so that poor Puddles could safely go up into the field with her duckling charges. Injured hen Jess, being quite used to ducks, was moved in with them making her visible to the other hens but safe from any aggression. This tactic will hopefully mean that a further attempt at introducing her to the flock might be successful, fingers crossed.
When freed back into the field Puddles immediately waddled over to rejoin Donald the Khaki Campbell drake & seemed to completely forget about her babies, so they looked bewildered & vulnerable to start with. However, lovely Chalk, my special Muscovy duck, soon arrived to investigate the new arrivals & seemingly sensing that they were only youngsters immediately took up position as their protector, seeing off some hens who flew at them rather aggressively. So with their unusual bodyguard the ducklings explored their new surroundings & companions. Pop, the gander, headed their way, head down, & for a moment I thought they were in trouble, but he was only making his presence known as top bird & king of the field. After just a few minutes the ducklings looked quite at home & were busily foraging for goodies in the grass. I knew that one discovery would make them extremely happy - the ponds! Sure enough, once they discovered the water they were happy little fellows happily swimming & splashing about. All four can fit into one pond, which is quite sweet to see. One of the Mallards (the one we call Ibbity) has a complete set of feathers now, but so far has shown no interest in flying away. I have stuck to the RSPB's advice & not clipped their wings so it is a case of 'will they' / 'won't they' fly off. They seem pretty contented at the moment anyway.
Seymour & Daisy didn't seem too perturbed at being separated from the rest of the ducks, but Tom & Cherry, the Cherry Valley ducks, were quite confused by the fact that they could no longer follow Seymour about in the hero worshipping manner they have humorously adopted. Silly billy Jess managed to get herself over the fence into the main field & was immediately surrounded by unwelcoming hens & had to be lifted back to safety! No injury this time though, so some slight progress I feel. She hasn't tried again since!
This afternoon all looks peaceful, with Tom & Cherry sat at the fence gazing at Seymour, the Mallard ducklings sat with Puddles, who seems to have taken up position of mother duck again, & everyone else just going about their business as usual. So I think I might dare begin tidying up my garden & plan some planting. However, Hubby says he has a sneaking suspicion that it won't be too long before some other rescued or orphaned creature will take up residence again. I can't imagine what makes him think that!
To finish here's picture of my gorgeous Muscovy drake Cheese, just because he was posing so nicely!