Growing pains

This summer I enjoyed one of the most rewarding encounters with some of my favourite birds, the often underappreciated mallard ducks. The journey began with a chance encounter with a newly hatched brood of eight mallard ducklings

I first encountered the ducklings at just a few hours old when they were tiny and extremely vulnerable. They face many challenges during these first few hours and days, with the threat of starvation or predation ever present. Sadly a little over a week later, mother nature had already claimed her first victims and there were just five ducklings remaining out of the original eight.

The five survivors

I have seen many ducklings come and go over the years, but these latest arrivals really captured my affections. Never before have I been able to witness the full journey of their development from those first fragile days right through to becoming fully fledged, independent young ducks.

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This particular clutch of ducklings belong to to a mallard from the flock who frequent the harbour ‘gap’, and whose lives I have followed (and photographed) for a number of years now. Over time this particular female has grown increasingly familiar with and trusting around me.

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The ducklings too, guided by their powerful imprinting on her soon grew equally bold and curious. As a result I was able to observe their progress up close without disturbance, and capture some pretty adorable images too!

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Now between one and two weeks old, the ducklings had already grown considerably larger, and now had a much more streamlined appearance. Although still vulnerable at this stage, with each passing day the odds are survival were beginning to turn in their favour.

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A brief video clip…

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All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2021
www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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