Category Archives: Garden

Barn Ducks

We have some wild ducks that are frequent visitors to the barn – it’s strange that they’ve always come because until recent years there’s been no pond or big river really close by. Earlier in the year it was a little crazy with one female turning up with at least four males in tow. Now things seem to have been decided – there’s usually just one male, and the female is scouting for a nest site. A favourite place is in the bank just outside the kitchen door, where tree roots make a dry and cosy ‘cave’.

The ducks are wild, and wary of people… unless the person has bread. It’s amazing, step out the kitchen door with some food and the ducks come running ! It’s easy to get a photo while they’re distracted.

Barn ducks - March 2015

Barn ducks – March 2015

I have an unbelievable duck story – but put aside your disbelief because it’s all true. A few years ago, maybe 2002, there was a duck nesting at the barn. At this time the barn was being renovated, I was living in the ‘Shed’, and the garden was quite wild. One evening I heard the duck get scared by something, and fly off just before dark. I didn’t think she’d come back in the dark, so after waiting a while I went and checked the nest – there was a clutch of eggs. I didn’t think they’d survive the night without the duck, so brought them in the Shed and set up a light bulb to keep them warm. Unbelievably, during a long night a couple of the ducklings did hatch. They were horrible looking, with no feathers, and a yoke sack on their tummies – I fell asleep thinking there was something wrong with them and they would surely die. I woke early to find the horrible looking things had been transformed into two cute fluffy ducklings ! The duck flew back into the garden after sunrise, I ran out and replaced the eggs (and ducklings) in the nest before the duck got there.. and she took back over.

In the short time the duck was at the barn with her ducklings, before making the journey to the river Fowey, I made them a temporary pool out of some plastic sheet – and they used it ! There was one mishap when one duckling tried to go under the plastic to get into the pool. It was certainly determined – when I found it it had forced itself forward until it was sandwiched between the plastic and the blocks underneath, completely unable to move. This was one of several rescues required, before the family headed off for the river.

Barn ducklings - 2002

Barn ducklings – 2002

Mallard ducks can live 20 years, although the average life expectancy is only 3 years. Is one of the ducks that visits the garden now one of the ducklings that enjoyed the temporary pool?