Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Smudge the Little White Duck in 2011



You probably notice by now, I am particularly fascinating by bird behaviour. Why do birds interact as they do? What does that tell us about them? I think many of us don't even notice what is going on in front of us so I want to share my observations with you.

Since I took up wildlife photography, I have been privileged to watch several wildfowl families over the breeding season. My observations have revealed some behaviour I hadn't been aware of before. Of these perhaps the most fascinating has been the story of Smudge the little white duck and family.
Smudge is a little white mallard duck (yes you do get white mallard ducks!) with a single black smudge on the top of her head. In April she appeared in the company of a handsome male mallard and subsequently the pair produced a brood. What was unusual here, was the male stayed with her and the chicks, the males usually take off completely after the deed is done and you seldom see them around ducklings. A few weeks later the couple abandoned the remaining four chicks.
But that wasn't the end of the story. Towards the middle of June a pretty mallard female appeared with a huge brood of chicks. One day Smudge was seen watching them on the outskirts. A day or so later she was in the middle of them. A day or so later she was leading them and the mother was on the outskirts. Eventually the pair came to some sort of agreement because they were seen in joint custody of the ducklings as they grew into adulthood. Scroll on to see the proof.

Smudge with her mate and her own ducklings in late April and early May

he is recognizable because he lacks the usual white neck ring of most mallard ducks


17th June: Smudge The Duck is on her own

little white duck

The Second Female Mallard Duck with her Ducklings

I called her Gentle Mum

  • Female Mallard Ducks and Ducklings

    Smudge and Gentle Mum Reach an Understanding on Joint Custody

The Little White Duck Acts as Lookout

white mallard duck
Here Smudge is very much on guard as the other female mallard and the ducklings rest in the grass. You'll need to look closely to spot the second female - can you see her?

In 2012 - she had 16 ducklings - none survived :(
In 2013 - she managed to raise 4 to adulthood
Now in 2014 she has lost her mate but has 8 ducklings- watch this space to see how she gets on. 

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.