Pesky pups thwart duck friendly plan
Country Matters columnist Natalie Pitfield does her best to coax ducks to set up a home.
During duck hunting season I had joked that we should erect a sign on our lifestyle block that read, ‘‘Duck Friendly Property’’.
That way the ducks would know that they could come to our place and be safe.
Somehow I must have been mentally projecting this thought as a pair of ducks came and made themselves at home.
They were casual visitors to the small pond my husband had built at the bottom of our property.
But when we dug a bigger pond in the middle of the property they invited some of their friends.
Subsequently we had up to four ducks making their home with us at any given time.
The only thing that made our place a little less idyllic for ducks were our dogs.
Neither Milo nor Akira are aggressive but they thought it was great fun to chase the ducks at every opportunity.
I had to admire the tenacity of the ducks, though. They would fly off when we were out walking the dogs around the property. Then they’d fly back once it was safe again.
Mum was out walking the dogs one day and realised that the female duck was surrounded by about 10 ducklings! Her excitement was immense. We knew that if ducks are hatched in a particular place they will usually return there regularly. I was also quite excited. We’d talked about potentially getting some pet ducks and hoped they might breed, but it was a plan for the future.
It seemed that our resident ducks had used their psychic ability yet again and not only known how much we wanted them to make their home on our property, but also how much we wanted them to breed there too.
Once more, the only obstacle was our over-curious puppies.
After the day that Mum found the ducklings I opted to walk down to the pond with her and help train the dogs to leave the ducklings alone.
Mum’s dog, Freya, was no problem as she was gentle and quiet with the ducks. It was just my hooligans who were playing chasey.
As we walked down we saw Mama duck and I thought I saw some ducklings with her but when we finally reached the pond she was alone.
I had the dogs on a tandem lead so they wouldn’t bother her. She flew off and we looked around the pond but couldn’t see any ducklings. I wondered if she had hidden them somewhere.
We walked around and Mama duck stayed nearby, which made me think that she had definitely stashed her babies somewhere.
Over the next few days we walked the dogs morning and afternoon but never saw any ducklings again.
Mum was really sad as she thought perhaps a hawk or stoat had killed the babies.
But I hoped that Mama duck had been a little more crafty than that and had managed to lead her babies off our property and to somewhere safe from silly dogs who liked to chase things.
Milo the dog cools off in the Natalie’s ‘duck’ pond.