I did mention this quite a long time ago, but for those of you who don't know the story, I had a mum and her 10 babies stay for a few weeks. Daisy and her husband Donald (I know) live in our garden each summer. This particular summer, she had 10 babies. When the eggs arfe hatched, they leave the garden they're in and go to the big pond they originally came from. She left to take them there and suddenly all hell broke loose.
We live just off a very busy main sea front road leading from one town to another. They were all over the road. No one would stop. How none were hurt or killed is anyone's guess. Anyway, I stepped into the traffic to stop it, angry no one had without me doing so, and herded them all to safety in someone's garage on the opposite side of the road.
One man picked up Daisy and carried her back to my house and another person gave me a shoe box to carry the ducklings back over there in. All of us shaking like leaves, we crossed back over the road and into the safety of my garden. I could tell from her behaviour that Daisy had decided this is where they would now stay for her to rear them.
I don't know if you're aware, but seagulls (or shitehawks as we call them in Devon), eat ducklings. Horrid, I know. I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to protect them from that. For the next six weeks, I got up at around 4am, before daylight, and stood guard over the pond to protect them until about 11pm each night when it was dark and I knew the seagulls had gone off for the night.
I ordered sacks of chick feed and duck food from Mole Valley Farmers and had it delivered and made sure they were well fed each day to help poor Daisy. The fact all 10 were surviving meant she had loads of work to do. Donald was wonderful and I am delighted to have seen how devoted, ducks can be to one another. Mind you, quite a few males came by and tried to rape her.
My neighbours thought nothing of hearing me running up and down the garden with fishing net being swirled around my head as I chased off not only seagulls, but over sexed males who were after poor Daisy. Neighbours used to bring people to my gate to watch what was happening. We caused quite a stir I can tell you.
The funniest time was when they took their first flight. They did it just as it was getting dark and Daisy was quacking at them frantically telling them to come back. They ignored her and we could see ducks flying around quacking and then suddenly dropping like bombs out of the sky as they tired.
We found all bar three to start with. One of the missing ones was found the next morning in a neighbouring garden completely confused as he could hear his family, but couldn't work out how to get to them. Another one was brought back that same evening by yet another neighbour.
He had been having a barbecue when all of a sudden a duck dropped out of the sky into the pond next to the barbecue. Luckily they had enough food already!
That duck came back of its own accord once he got his breath back. The third one was found by the same neighbour. They were clearing up from their barbecue when they heard a squeal of a cars brakes. Thinking there had been a crash, he ran to the road to see if help was needed. What he found was a man standing next to his car shaking. He said a duck had fallen from the sky into the road in front of him. He tried to miss, but thought he had hit it. My neighbour looked up the road and seeing the duck shouted 'I know that duck.'
Poor sod who had hit it had his second shock, he thought he had encountered a madman. He dived in his car slammed the door and drove off at breakneck speed. It was when he came down the drive carrying the duck to me I heard about this. We put the duck on the pond with the others as it appeared O.k.
In the morning, I saw he (or she, can't tell at that age) was limping badly. I called the vet out at 5am and cut a long story short it was taken away, repaired and brought back none the worse for wear. All ten ducklings survived. We never lost one of them.
It was wonderful watching how she taught them what to do. Especially the flying. Some come back and visit. We still get our regular mating pair each summer, but sadly Donald and Daisy have died. They are buried next to our pond, because, would you believe, they came home to die. Some of their babies still come to spend the odd day here and there. How do I know it's them? Because they know how to come to the back door and ask for their food. The go waddling to the exact spot where I used to put it to feed them.
I can't say I'd like another 6 weeks of lack of sleep and waiting for loos, drinks or food till someone could replace me for guard duty. Postmen, passers, by and all sorts were roped in to help while I paid a visit or got a drink, but i have to say, that was the most enjoyable summer for a long time.