Sunday, 25 April 2010

In search of ducklings

For most of it's length in Abingdon, it is unusual to find ducklings on the river ock.  Probably the habitat that is excellent for water voles - steep banks and flowing water is not suitable for young ducklings.
But there are plenty of water ways where ducklings can be seen and probably the best is the Abbey Stream.  This female mallard had unfathomable number of young - we lost count at 10:

But mallard ducklings feed themselves and were soon out looking for food on the banks.

Of course one of the reasons why ducks have so many young is that most of them will not survive. Sometimes this is due to predators, but sometimes it's other ducks.  This female was very agitated as she was pursued by several males and trying to keep them away from her young.

There were also young coots (cootlings?) on the stream. Coots have a different approach to raising their young, they seem like caring parents, as the both of them feed their young:

Coot broods can be as high as ten and like ducklings, not all of them are going to make it adulthood.  But coots have a rather unpleasant way of determining who will survive, they attack each of their young and it can be quite distressing to witness:

Eventually the weakest of the brood die from these attacks leaving only the strongest two or three.

1 comment:

  1. excellent post - very informative. Nature can be harsh can't it?