Robins, Rats And Ravenous Ducks

Just starting out on a quest to encourage ducks at Reffley Reservoir to eat healthy corn, we were interrupted by a robin singing. We were lucky enough to see the bird – though not in huge detail in the lessening light – as it bounced about from one branch to another, but it was obvious it was producing the sound.ย  This, of course, was a pleasing interruption, as it gaveย  me the chance to improve my knowledge of the redbreast’s song before more species start singing as well.

As we walked to our destination under a bright three-quarter moon, several more bursts of a robin’s delightful sweet song tumbled into our ears. Happily, it would seem there are plenty of robins around.

At the Reservoir, we found two pairs of mallard – double the number of the previous day, my daughter saidย  so was word spreading on the duck grapevine? They swam towards us, but being a bit wary, didn’t leave the water, so we threw some of the corn in their direction.

Then, in the very chilly January evening air, we made our way back round to the local pond to give the mallards and muscovies there a meal. This bunch – I counted about 10 males and a similar number of females, plus two muscovies – are more used to handouts of grain from our family and their reaction was much more enthusiastic!ย  (That said, however, I don’t think even this group has been fed when it has been completely dark).

We sat and watched the ducks as they foraged in the grass and molehills near the pond for every last bit of corn. My daughter suggested we keep a look-out for some rats to appear and join the feast and sure enough, a few minutes later,ย  two small, stealthily scurrying shapes did do so. It was hardย  to pick them out as it was now pretty much dark and their browny colouring blended very well with the patches of earth. Their scurrying movementsย  back and forth gave them away.ย  Apparently, they have been seen on this site before.

I can’t say I particularly like rats. They aren’t the pleasantest of creatures, for instance, locals say they have seen them attacking ducklings. However, I admire the way they have survived over the years, adapting to whatever life throws at them. And it has to be said, if we humans gave more thought to what we did with the remains of our food, there may well not be so many rats around. It could be said that the rats help us to clear up our mess. This, of course,ย  is one of the points of the River amd Canal Trust’s project to encourage people to offer healthier foods to ducks rather than the usual bread, which can get left lying around uneaten and clogging the waterways.

A larger mammal came into view on the opposite side of the field – a muntjac out for an early evening meal. Nearer home, we heard a tawny owl calling from the nearby woodland – a real bonus to top off an interesting outing.



One thought on “Robins, Rats And Ravenous Ducks

  1. Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for sending me your blog, I enjoyed reading it and it got me thinking as to what we could do to help make our ponds more user friendly. I am afraid I was outvoted on the design of the wooden fencing that surrounds our duck pond but that is not to say it can’t be modified if it is detrimental to the wildlife. A local lady named Mrs White feeds and waters the ducks everyday with the right sort of food and drops me a note through my door if she has any worries about them. The rats are due to the amount of bread, crisps, chips etc that people tend to throw around thinking the ducks will eat them even if they have had several feeds that day. Now I have managed to raise the water level in the pond by repairing the outfall pipe, this together with the work being done to clear the ditches that supply rainwater can only help the ecology of the pond and I am hoping it will not dry up this summer. I hope you can attend the AGM on Tuesday 26th April at 7pm as any input from the audience is always welcome. Hope to see you over the park sometime.


    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

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