Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Day 1 - 30 Days Wild 2016

Well, June has certainly got off to a seasonal start! I'm at home in Lincoln for a few days at the moment, which means we're getting very similar weather to Springwatch at RSPB Minsmere. I was planning on making the most of having access to the garden at home by doing a count of everything going to the bird feeders. Unfortunately, pretty much everything which has landed on the bird feeders has been blown straight off!

The view of the bird feeder I've had for most of the day- without any birds on it!
 So, with limited luck on the bird feeders, we decided to try to find wildlife somewhere else. A beck runs through my village, which, until I went to the University of York, was the best place I knew for ducklings. There weren't many ducklings out today, probably because of the weather. The family we did see were reasonably old, with down replaced by the starts of proper feathers. All apart from one, which was much smaller, and with no obvious feathers.

You can really see the difference in maturity between the ducklings here

These ducklings had obviously hatched at different times, despite all of the eggs in a mallard nest hatching over the course of around a day and so must have come from different broods. Creching or brood amalgamation like this has been observed in a number of duck species, as well as mallards. It might be because ducklings have a higher chance of survival because of the "safety in numbers" which large, combined broods may provide, or simply be accidental. There's also evidence that females don't tolerate ducklings from different broods and may even kill them. However, the female with these ducklings seemed completely unconcerned by the smaller one, which was one of the first to follow the female as she lead all of the ducklings downstream.

Brood amalgamation is a really interesting piece of behaviour, and there's lots of information available online if you're interested in finding out more. It just goes to show you can see some really fascinating things even on short walks in places you know well- a great start to 30 Days Wild!

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