After a day of frustrations at work & also feeling a little blue after telling my work colleagues about the last of the ducklings leaving home, I came home to find some Wardens from the Wildlife Trust stood looking out across the Reserve which is opposite our little field. I wound down my car window & asked them if there were any Mallards down on the reservoir & to my delight they told me that there is indeed a small group of young Mallards down there! So I went on to tell them the tale of the rescued Mallard ducklings. They were charmed by the story & agreed it was quite possible that it was 'my' youngsters that were on the water! Then they asked me if I would be interested in becoming a volunteer for the Reserve & getting involved in the whole project. Naturally I almost literally jumped up & down at the chance! So I was already buzzing with excitement when I pulled onto our drive & was met by middle son asking me if I had noticed that one of the Mallards was back in the field! I rushed up to see if it was true & sure enough, there, as large as life, was little Bobbity sat with Daisy & Seymour the Aylesbury ducks (no doubt having enjoyed some of their food) taking a little nap! Can you believe it?! She had been gone since Sunday. I experienced such a rush of emotion - I'm sure that in that moment I could have actually lifted off the ground! Here's a couple of pictures of her(?) strolling around as if she'd never been away:
Now I'm not kidding myself for one moment that she had returned to see me, but it does give me immense satisfaction to know that we created an environment pleasant enough for her to want to return to.
I galloped back up to the Trust people & introduced myself a little more formally & told them of the development & in return they chatted to me about how the Reserve was developing & attracting new wildlife. As well as the Mallards there are two Swans, Herons & a white Egret to be seen down on the water. Barn Owl numbers have picked up quite considerably due to an increase in the small mammal population now that the land isn't being farmed. Buzzards are quite a common sight here, but they have also spotted a Kite & told me how the fork in the Kite's tail is the way to tell them apart. They have witnessed the local Sparrowhawk terrorising the sparrows along the hedgerow & I told them how it had taken all of the Blue Tit chicks from my neighbour's garden last year. It will be a such a pleasure to be able to help in whatever way I can & of course it will have the added bonus of being able to see the Mallards regularly, if indeed they are our rescued ducklings on the water. I felt as if angels had truly smiled down on me.
That's not the end of my happy news for today! I candled the eggs in my incubator for the second time & each one has a developing chick inside! You can clearly see the dark mass of the chick & the blood vessels that are feeding it. I could make out the head & body & they reacted to the light being shone onto them. I'm sure I could actually make out the feathers on one or two, but maybe I'm being too fanciful. Being a novice at this, & after determining that each egg was fertile when I candled at day 7, it is a relief that I have managed to maintain the correct conditions in the incubator. So, without wishing to count our chickens before they hatch, it looks like we must get a move on with sorting out that brooder area this weekend as it appears our family is going to be growing yet again!
To top things off the farmer whose barn conversion we live in called by to ask if I would like some hay free of charge as one of his bales had burst & was of no use to him. Also, lovely Mary, my neighbour, let me use her long hosepipe to water the parched grass in our little field as hers reaches & ours doesn't. Hopefully this will encourage it to sprout greenery in time to provide the geese with enough grazing to see them through the Winter months.
So today has been one of many blessings. I have been moved to the core & feel full to the brim with joy & gratitude. Bobbity had flown away again by the time the light started to fade this evening, but this one visit will leave me with a warm feeling inside for many days to come & who knows it may even become a more regular occurrence. I'll keep you posted...