Snapshot Saturday: Rearing the next generation

Mother and babies on Good Friday. Yes, I know you can only see seven. There’s always one off exploring ….

It was a couple of days before Good Friday when we first saw them.  Mrs. Mallard swimming on the village pond with her eight tiny ducklings.  We kept a proprietorial interest in them, and were dismayed when over the next few weeks they became seven, then five …. then only two balls of fluff.  These two kept growing until they were, in duckling terms, almost teenagers.  Then they too vanished.

No more ducklings on our pond.  Just a single baby coot.

This was the baby coot on Good Friday. Now he’s almost adult – long legs, huge feet, and camera-shy.

Last week though, walking along to a friend’s house, I spotted them.  Mrs. Mallard had hatched another brood.  Seven this time.  I wonder whether this little lot will make it?  It seems as if there have to be an awful lot of ducklings put upon this earth even to maintain the population at replacement level.  Both male and female mallards will attack and kill ducklings who are not their own.

Two of the latest ducklings, spotted yesterday evening.

It’s eleven weeks since we first saw those baby ducklings.  Mrs. Mallard is still no nearer to successfully rearing the next generation of mallards to replace her.  In some ways, time has stood still.

This isn’t mum. She was in the reeds, chivvying her babies into safety.

WordPress Photo challenge: Delta.  For this week’s photo challenge, share a picture that symbolizes transitions, change, and the passing of time.

23 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: Rearing the next generation”

  1. I do the same at our local pond… daily head counts to see how many have made it through another day. Yet the geese in our community rose garden give the council grief because they breed and survive aplenty. That pond walk is all poop and honking. But no fox in his right mind would take on mother goose!

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  2. Anecdotal evidence rather than empirical, but I’ve heard that moorhens will drown baby ducks. It’s a tough old world … the mallards on our stream seem to have the same problems rearing a brood to maturity. They’re not the brightest of birds … every year until this year a mother mallard would take all of her babies to our disused swimming pool where there was no cover at all from aerial predators. Same story … a few less ducklings every day. It’s a wonder we’ve got any ducks at all. I love seeing them paddling along the brook though.

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  3. Great photo – watched a momma duck and her ducklings swimming along the shore this morning. They saw Ivy and kept swimming. Meer appearance is all that is needed to keep the ducks swimming up, or down, the shoreline – no ducks in our yard today, or likely while we are here. It’s gonna be a great day!

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  4. Beautiful birds and I wish Mrs Mallard more success with future broods. Interestingly, here in South Africa, Mallards (imported from the northern hemisphere mostly via the pet trade) are considered to be invasive – not only do they breed successfully and out compete indigenous species but they also crossbreed with endemic ducks, producing fertile hybrids, and so the survival of local species is threatened. Added to that, male Mallards are known to kill the offspring of other water birds. Complicated!

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    1. I find male mallards a bit irritating. They’re lovely of course, but behave like 15 year old boys when confronted with the female of the species. The problem here is that they outnumber the females woefully. On another note. I recently saw some Rouen geese. They’re the image of mallards but enormous. Most disconcerting.

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  5. It’s sad that the first set of ducklings didn’t make it, but I’m so glad that Mrs. Mallard hatched another family. I hadn’t realized that ducks could have two broods in a single year until I read this post.

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