The Beautiful Game (Part Three)

Okay strictly speaking the Mallard or Wild Duck is not a game bird but I am on a theme, it is a wildfowl and it suffers the same fate.

MallardIn Gloucestershire you can buy a day’s duck shooting for £70 and that allows you a bag of sixty birds and includes hospitality. (you have to pay £20 extra for each bird you shoot)

Surprisingly for an animal lover I am not against hunting. I don’t really see anything wrong in a man catching his dinner from the wild. It is a very natural thing to do and puts us closer to the animals that must make a kill to survive. I don’t hunt myself because I find it easier to go to Tesco’s and they have lots of choice but I am okay with it. Hunting requires skill and an understanding of nature.

The Mallard is a particularly plump bird and one will make a good meal for a family of four.

(Don’t worry we are not going to eat this one)Alectoris rufaI see quite a lot wrong with setting out on a shoot with the intention of killing every living thing that you see for pleasure. That requires a serious lack of empathy and understanding of the world about you.

They say that a fox kills for pleasure, it doesn’t. A fox is programmed to kill food and to bury anything that it can’t eat for later, it is a tactic of survival and he doesn’t have any choice in this matter. When a fox enters a chicken coop he is going into a very unnatural situation that doesn’t exist in the wild and he is not programmed for. He must kill all the available food and bury it, of course he can’t accomplish this task and so he leaves a mess. It is man’s fault, he built a trap that the birds could not escape from. When the fox appeared they tried to flee, the massacre should never have happened and there was no pleasure involved just a lot of confused, frightened animals including the fox.

There is no such thing as a bad animal.

I know that this is a post about ducks but just remember that “There are no bad animals.”

Now the good news is that I don’t have to walk to Cannop Ponds to see ducks. They live at the bottom of the garden.

Mallard

MallardThere is a quite large pond in the garden and the ducks can often be seen wandering around the garden in the early morning.

MallardThere is a much larger pond behind that which is quite wild and there is a stream that feeds this pond.

I have just been out to look for the ducks.

I couldn’t find any ducks on the garden pond.

5I couldn’t find any ducks on the larger pond.

6I couldn’t find any ducks on the stream.

7So a really good result all round because I would absolutely love to have ducklings on the pond.

There are two important things that you need to know about Mallards.

Mallard

MallardThe male is only interested in sex (No bad animals) as soon as the female starts to lay he will leave and join a flock of males. I was hoping to find him gone.

The female will find somewhere very safe and hidden to lay her eggs. She will actually lay more than half of her own bodyweight in eggs. It is a difficult time for her and she needs to be somewhere safe. I didn’t expect to see her, the ponds are very overgrown and there is plenty of cover for her. It  is all looking very promising.

MallardI actually witnessed the mating on one occasion and that was April 9th, so I have good reason to be hoping for ducklings.

Duck sex can seem distressing if you don’t understand what is going on. It is often likened to gang rape. A group of males appear to attack the female and take it in turns to copulate and there is much splashing and ducking of the poor female. but remember that there is no such thing as a bad animal. This is how Mallards breed, they can’t do it any other way and it is perfectly right and natural.

Ducks don’t commit rape and Foxes don’t kill for pleasure. That is called anthropomorphism, when we attribute human behaviours to non human species.

So when I saw what was going on I naturally grabbed my camera and headed for the pond with the intention of making an interesting and informative nature video.

MallardUnfortunately they were on the pond at the bottom of the garden and before I could get anywhere near Fizz came racing past me. Shouting at the top of her voice, “I’ll save you fair lady duck!” She chased them all away. Stupid dog!

12So no nature video. I expect that they tried again later, the males can be quite persistent.

Let’s just have another look at the male. I am not expecting to see much more of him if everything else has gone to plan.

Male Mallard (Mmm, yum, yum)

Male Mallard

Male Mallard

Male Mallard

Male Mallard

Male MallardHere is our lady. I hope to see a lot more of her.

Female Mallard

Female Mallard

Female MallardIt is maybe a little bit sad that we can’t keep both animals but this is the way that it happens and we will get to see the ducklings grow.

I hope.

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