Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Duck in the Catmint

In spite of an absence of water, this little duck has built her nest right under our noses, a few yards from the back door in our garden, in a dried old clump of last year's catmint. Her mate, we fear, was the drake last seen dead at the side of the road a week or so ago. So she's all alone in the world but ignoring our tentative efforts at help - apart from nibbling on some bread - with a quiet warning hiss whenever we get too close.

When I first put down a frying pan of water, in the hope that she might drink a little, she was scared enough to leap up from the nest and reveal eight or nine large blueish-white eggs keeping warm there. Beautiful. But our biggest fear is that a fox or wild cat may find her unprotected one night and devour the eggs, or the poor little ducklings when they eventually hatch out.

She might have done better nesting by the village pond about a mile down the road, next to water and clustered with good hiding places for young ducklings, but for some reason she chose our isolated house in the middle of rolling sheep fields to hatch this year's brood. Perhaps there are too many cats in the village now, or maybe this is a territory issue and some other more combative duck has taken the best nesting spot by the pond ...

Lovely, isn't she?

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