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Archive for the ‘Swanpool Nature Reserve’ Category

A week later I returned to the nature reserve to check on the cygnets. I was secretly hoping to find lots of new broods after the upsetting loss of the previous week. The evergrowing population of coots had taken over the lake. As I watched the funny little black chicks going about their business alongside the adults I spotted a lone baby dashing in and out of some nearby reeds. It caught my attention as it was rounder and fuzzier than the others and did not appear to have the characteristic red wispy feathers the coot chicks have on their head when newly hatched. Then I realised that what I had spotted was not a coot, but an unusually coloured Mallard duckling. It soon joined its mother and made its way to a log quite close to the bank giving me the opportunity to admire it properly in the late afternoon light.

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Following the fate of this year’s hatchlings at the Swanpool Nature Reserve has been a turbulent affair.

In early May nine cygnets hatched and the first two broods of ducklings appeared. I have been following the misadventures of these adorable little creatures ever since.

One of the cygnets was lost pretty much overnight, and sadly the Mallard ducklings were decimated in just a few days. Both broods (one of 12 ducklings and one of 9) were left with only one duckling each.

A few days later I spotted a third brood of five ducklings. Two of these are still alive today and growing rapidly. In June Coot chicks also started to appear.

Overall the lake remained unusually empty for the time of year. Generally earlier-hatched ducklings have an increased survival rate (http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-biology/duckling-survival), so the prospect of seeing a good number of ducklings reach adulthood and fledge remained bleak…

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