Posted by: glandorescilly | 30/06/2010

Feathered guests

“Have you put the ducks on the blog?”, Steve asked me this evening.

I admitted that I hadn’t and he was shocked. He insisted that I add the ducks to the blog this evening. So here you are, dear readers, our current group of temporary feathered guests at Glandore Gallery and Apartments on Scilly.

Maisie and Murgatroyd - the wild mallards

First there is Maisie and Murgatroyd, two ordinary wild mallards from the duckpond, who have been visiting us during the summer for the last three years. They spend a lot of time in the garden and have trained us to feed them with either wild bird seed or proper poultry pellets (thank you Mr. Griffin!), replenish their water bowl and even fill a large oblong watering tray with rainwater so they can have a bath before preening and grooming themselves in the sunshine. If they saw us through our ground floor patio windows, they would come right up to the glass and give us that ‘head to the left, head to the right’ look that we came to call ‘duckfluence’. Sometimes Murgie even tapped on the glass with his beak if he thought we hadn’t seen him or were ignoring him – just to remind us that we were neglecting our duties.

They arrived on Valentine’s Day this year but Murgie disappeared about five days ago leaving Maisie on her own in the garden. Since then she could be seen occasionally standing in the middle of the grass early and late in the day, quacking her head off as if either calling him to come back or giving him a piece of her mind. Today we can’t find her in the garden and we think she may have returned to the pond to join him.

The Flock

The image above shows The Flock, hurrying guiltily out of our garden at about 7.45 am on May 20th, having sneaked in to forage and sleep peacefully on the grass under the apple trees. We counted three large mallard-type males and six large white females. We have no idea what breed they are but they are huge – almost the size of small geese – and dwarfed Maisie and Murgie.

Lisa on her nest

Then Steve discovered that one of the ‘White Ladies’ had built a nest in the shade beneath our old myrtle tree, well hidden and not easy to reach. Having been firmly against encouraging them into the garden, he then changed direction completely, named her ‘Lisa’ and began feeding her duck pellets, providing a water bowl and a bathing tray and replenishing them every morning with rainwater from the tanks.

Fourteen eggs!

When Lisa left her nest to eat and bathe, Steve managed to sneak a peek and discovered fourteen eggs snugly tucked into the hollow beneath the myrtle tree. Some research revealed that duck eggs take up to 28 days to hatch and this photo was taken on June 5th so we are hoping for the patter of little duckling feet soon. It would be nice if Lisa and her family stayed in the garden for a little while but we suspect they may head for the duck pond pretty soon after hatching. Then Steve discovered a second ‘White Lady’ sitting on a nest in the centre of the thicket that is our Island Bed in the middle of the drive, tucked away securely beneath a ferociously-spined Yucca, she’s even more invisible than Lisa. Steve has named her Yvonne but she appears to be sitting on an empty nest which seems rather strange.

Nevertheless, Lisa and Yvonne seem to be quite tolerant of each other and, over the past few days, of Maisie who has been bereft in the absence of Murgie and has chosen to sit close to Lisa’s nest by the myrtle tree – perhaps for company? They emerge from their nests to eat, bathe and groom themselves, flapping their wings to stretch after long hours sitting, before returning to their stations.

WalterTwo sunbathing on the sundial

During the past ten days, a lot of racing pigeons have appeared on Scilly, presumably from a release on the UK mainland, and have landed here to enjoy a pleasant summer holiday in the sunshine. Last year exactly the same thing happened and we found ourselves temporary carers for a pigeon we named ‘Walter’ who was pretty exhausted when he landed in our garden. We fed him for some three to four weeks before he finally flew home. This year we have another pigeon, named WalterTwo, who landed in our garden about a week or so ago and sat there, hunched up, head drawn right down into his body, looking pretty miserable. So we started feeding him as well (we don’t actually know if it’s a ‘him’ or a ‘her’ but, since the original Walter Pidgeon was a Canadian actor, we’re sticking to ‘him’ until we know different). He’s perked up a lot and enjoys sunbathing on the sundial in the garden. Maybe he’ll do the same as Walter and leave us in a week or so’s time.

But in the meantime he’s a strict taskmaster, sitting on my peg bucket looking for food while I’m trying to hang the laundry on the garden line, approaching my bare ankles as if he is preparing to give me a reminder peck, even flying towards my head as if intending to land on my shoulders. I had to make an emergency dash into the Wholesalers to buy a bag of wild bird seed when we ran out on Monday morning because Walter was so insistent that I feed him!

Fledgling blackbird

Finally we have a fledgling blackbird who is lucky to be alive, having been clearly visible on our lawn about ten days ago, out of the nest much too early and very vulnerable. It had the characteristic yellow-rimmed beak, tiny tufts of pale feather where ‘ears’ might be on its head, no tail feathers, very few wing feathers and a downy tummy. Sitting out in the open on the grass, only able to hop about on ridiculously long legs, squawking ¬†incessantly for food and keeping Mum & Dad very busy, it could have been picked off very easily by a cat, seagull or rat. For three or four anxious mornings, we would roam the garden listening for the distinctive voice of this fledgling and being relieved when we realised it had survived another night. Hopefully, now it’s fledged, it will grow up into a handsome blackbird and be run ragged by its own babies in time!

So there you have it, our feathered guests who will enjoy summer in our garden and then, apart from the blackbird, depart to the pond down the road to winter with the rest of the ducks. Watch this space for news of any ducklings …

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Responses

  1. Hi just found your blog and really enjoyed reading it and some great pictures. shame about the duckling i have dogs and never let them off the lead and really wish others would keep there’s on one. any way will pop back soon and see if there’s any updates.


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