Some of you have probably heard about our huge duckling brood, but for those that haven't, here's the full story! This has been featured in a range of national newspapers, including the Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The Metro, also on Ceefax & BBC Radio Scotland:
"This Easter, families across Scotland are busy looking for things to do with their children in the school holidays. But imagine having a brood of 27 active youngsters to take care of!
That’s what one very energetic mallard duck is having to do right now at RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve, and she’s working extra hard to protect her huge family from attacks by predators.
Staff and visitors at the reserve were delighted to see the first brood of ducklings for the year visiting the reserve feeding station as usual, but were more than a little shocked when they saw the mother arrive with 27 little ducklings in tow.
Zul Bhatia, RSPB Lochwinnoch Reserve Manager, admits seeing such a large feathered family is unusual. “The normal brood size for mallard ducks is around 10 -14 eggs, so to see 27 ducklings was a bit surprising. However, it’s unlikely that all these offspring belong to the one duck. Sometimes female mallards lay their eggs in another female’s nest. In normal circumstances, the female would reject any ducklings that weren’t her own, but this one has seemingly decided to raise all 27, no small task by any means!
“Unfortunately, it seems despite her best efforts she has already lost a few to predators, and when she arrived yesterday she was down to 24.”
The reserve team will be monitoring the progress of the ducklings, which have now been coming to the feeding station for several days. You can follow their progress on the RSPB’s community page (www.rspb.org.uk/lochwinnoch) and on Facebook.
The mega-sized family has appeared just in time for Easter and the reserve’s ‘Quacking Good Easter’ event, which takes place on Saturday 23 April, from 11am – 3pm at the reserve visitor centre."
As of today, she has still got 23 ducklings and they have gotten into a little routine of coming to the table feeder first, then feeding from the ground around the seed feeder, then going through the bars of the cage feeder and eating from that! Soon they'll be so big they won't be able to get back out of the cage! Once they've eaten, if they feel safe enough, they have a bath in the small pond by the feeders, then all head off together back to the safety of the reeds.
Mallard and 24 duckling by Zul Bhatia
Tomorrow (23rd April, 11am - 4pm) is our Quacking Good Easter event, and we'll be doing lots of Easter themed arts and crafts, as well as having a great chick hunt! Should be a good day and we hope to see some of you there.