Saturday, 30 April 2011

29th April

Things are happening on a daily basis now.  Today there were more goslings on the far side of the bridge.   The one I think of as the Chunterer (as in she and her mate chunter on all the time) has seven new goslings, still very wobbly on their legs so they haven’t been out of the egg long.  In fact some of the shells were still in evidence. 

Next to her, alone near the mill flats, there are new goslings too.  She is quite well hidden so I could only get glimpses of three little heads but she is still sitting on the nest so there are probably more.  Will know more tomorrow.
Remember how I was concerned about those little goslings in the field above the allotments?  They seem to be having little trouble getting up and down that very steep back.

The Brambles goose and her male have turned up on Greenhill with four babies.  The male looks as if he has some China goose in him with a dark stripe down the back of his neck.  One of the goslings fell into a hollow and no matter how hard he tried and how high he jumped he couldn’t get back up – and there was no way to go down.  The other goslings and parents were on the top of the bank urging him on but it was obvious he was losing energy – so I interfered – sue me!  I know we are supposed to let nature take its course but I couldn’t sit by and do nothing.  So I went over and lifted him out, much to the annoyance of his father.  I got a punch in the stomach for my trouble but then they say no good deed goes unpunished don’t they?  It was well worth it I can tell you and yes they really are as soft to hold as they look.  No I didn’t pet it, I let it go immediately.
This family is also keen to prove me wrong about parent roles.   I have assumed the males never brood the goslings yet when I came back along the canal in the evening, one of the goslings was curled up tight to the male and then stuck his head under his wing. 

I know for observation and photos, this female mated with two males but there is only the one male in attendance.  Can I conclude that where the threesome is two males to one female, only the more dominant male takes on protection of the family? 
In sadder news, it looks as if the goose I called The Neighbour (because of her proximity to the very first goose nest) has had her eggs stolen by a predator – there were shell casings but no goslings.  She was standing by the nest looking a bit bewildered.
Also at that end, the two young mallard ducklings look to have been completely abandoned now but they know how to scoot out of trouble and seem to be doing okay.
The China goose actually has 11 goslings. 
At the entrance gate to the private boat moorings, last years Golden Mallard mother has about 11 very new ducklings.  No pure yellow ones this year but at least two very very pale ones with yellow patches.  It will be very interesting to see how they develop.  I saw there the older mallard duckling someone told me about earlier.  This duckling has been on its own for several days.  It tried to join this brood but was chased off by the mother.

Nearby Smudge and her male turned up with seven ducklings.  They are still mating.  Does this mean there will be a second clutch?  It was noticeable that the ducklings were wandering again, but then mallard ducklings do that.  What was also noticeable was Smudge being pestered by other male mallards especially after just mating with her male.  It all makes me wonder if the early ducklings that are abandoned are by females off to have second broods???   The lone abandoned duckling tried to join Smudge’s family.  One of the ducklings seemed to stick close to this older duckling but Smudge was having none of it and chased it away twice that I saw.
There is another very young family alongside the barges near Greenhill.   There are 5 including quite a light one.  The books keep telling me mallards pairs don’t stick together but this female has a male in tow too!

I think there are more goslings behind the fence.   I just catch glimpses and there is lots of bickering over space and protection. 
It may be there are just too many for me to keep an eye on them all from now on but I will certainly be trying.

30th April
The gosling count so far:
                1st goslings: 5 – on Greenhill
                Hawthorn – 1 – did not survive
                Allotment tree – 5 – now on Greenhill
                China goose – 11
                Allotment field – 5
                Brambles – 4 – now on Greenhill
                Chunterers – 7
                Mill babies - 9

                Weir – 2 abandoned      
                Smudge – 5
                Golden mallard – 10
                Barge female – 4
                Boat yard – 1 abandoned

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