Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!
Sunday, 11 May 2014
Stuck Ducks near Bucks Burn
Well I’ve been in Scotland about 2 hours and it didn’t take long for some birds to appear. Despite the very dreary conditions on landing, Spring is very much in the air and my first few moments in the country allowed me to see Jackdaws carrying nest material, Herring Gulls scavenging in the McDonald's carpark, Woodpigeons, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Pheasants and a few others. On my quest to explore the area close to my motel, I wandered down the road and found a nice Aberdeen-style pub called the Staging Post, and ducked in out of the drizzle for a beer and a hot meal.
No sooner had I sat down to tuck in to the curry than a lady called Lynne came in from outside and was pointing to the car-park looking a bit distressed. I looked out the window and saw a female Mallard with 10 newly hatched ducklings, frantically trying to get over the pub’s back fence. I rushed outside to help the lady and her daughter Cara investigate, and we found that behind the fence was a wall, below which was a gushing storm water drain. (Later I found this to be a waterway called Bucks Burn - 'burn' is the Scottish word for a small creek - and the penny dropped why the name of the suburb I was staying in was called Bucksburn!). This waterway was the mother duck’s intended destination to lead her new family to, but the urban jungle was a bit hard to navigate with her small brood!
We leapt into action and rounded up the little family, with the Mallard flapping over the fence and quacking in distress. The publican found us a cardboard box which served as nice 'duckling carrier', and Cara and I covered the top with out jackets to prevent the little quackers from hopping out. After all 10 babies were inside the box, we walked around the street to the lower side of the wall where the mother duck was waiting. A steep embankment led down to the water but I couldn't get closer because of a tall fence, so I handed the box-full of ducklings to Lynne while I scaled over, dodging blackberry spines on the other side, then took the box from Lynne as she passed it over the top. The mother duckling was following us along and calling loudly to her brood, and she eventually realised she could hop over a small stone wall near the fence and flap down to the water.
I peeled back a corner of 'jacket' so the ducklings could see daylight again, and the first one raced to freedom, weaving its way through tall grass, blackberry thicket and tumbling down the embankment to the water. Instantly the Mallard flew to greet the first of her clutch, continuing to quack loudly. This prompted the rest to leap from the box, filling the air with a chain of 'peep-peep-peeps' which linked me to their mother. I took the opportunity to snap a photo of a couple of two cute quackers before they too rushed to rejoin their family. It wasn't long before all 10 babies gathered around their mother and were happily dabbling alongside the gushing rapids, which led down into the nearby River Don. Below you can just make the Mallard family out from the dense drain-side vegetation.
What a welcome to Scotland!
Posted by Simon Cherriman