Saturday the 24th December 2022, Sunday the 25th December and Sunday the 01st January 2023
Three Episodes
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Saturday 24th December 2022
Mama Duck One

Music – Summer Time

Mavis and her ducklings lived on The Ropewalk. The Blue cross [far right] is where she sat with her eggs, the Yellow cross [middle] is where she moved her ducklings to to raise and finally the Red cross is where they moved to towards the end of July as juveniles. Many of the original clutch are still here today although a few of the males moved over to the Butts stretch of the walk.

I first saw Mavis in late May 2022. She was sitting on her eggs on the edge of the Delf Stream Canal on the New Street section of The Ropewalk on the Ramparts under a tree by the pedestrian crossing in New Street.

The Ropewalk part of the Ramparts circular walk around Sandwich starts on Woodnesborough Road and finishes on New Street, where you cross the road and join Mill Wall, which is another part of the circular walk.

At that point, l couldn’t tell what size her egg clutch was, just that she was very aware of her surroundings and very protective. But l do recall taking photographs of her, and she was very open to being approached.

I would regularly see her and Sally on their parts of the Delf Stream canal for the remainder of May. Mavis is a hybrid Mallard hen [domestic crossed with pure Mallard], whilst Sally is a pure strain Mallard.

Mavis was more familiar with people as she was used to receiving food – pieces of bread and grains from tourists and visitors alike to the town, whilst Sally, to begin with, was more reserved, but that is because Sally wasn’t originally an actual Delf Stream duck. But you’ll learn of her story in the next episode. Mavis was Mama Duck one.

Mavis had a clutch of ten chicks and managed to keep that number for all of June and the early first days of July; sadly, the local fox had a brood of four pups and hunting increased during this time, and Mavis lost two of her young drakes.[males].

This is their story.

June 01st to July 24th
June 01st – first time being seen by anyone and Mavis had moved them from New Street to the middle of the Ropewalk stretch to an open space surrounded by a large number of mallard ducks. My first count was ten chicks. Eight drakes [males] and 2 hens [females]

June 02nd – swimming and foraging lessons always under the watchful eye of Mavis!

June 03rd – swimming, foraging, grooming – wash – rinse – repeat, counting them out and counting them back in under the wing for sleeping and protection from mama.

June 04th – getting bigger by the day and the clutch is separated into two easy to manage groups. An adult drake [experiencing eclipsing – moulting] is allowed to overwatch them whilst Mavis takes a break to wash, swim and have a few minutes chill down. Away but still ever mindful of her chicks.

June 08th – one week since anyone of the Ropewalk first saw them, getting even bigger daily and now starting to walkabout more freely with mum. At this point, Mavis had her established ‘sleeping zone’, which was the middle of the Ropewalk stretch, but she introduced her chicks to different sections of the walk for swimming and foraging with increased regularity. Two of her clutch were clear favourites and were often caught walking side by side, and the emergence of a mischievous drake was soon noted as a ‘flapper.’

June 09th – Mavis enjoys more free time now that the chicks are older but is still never that far away.

June 13th – nearly two weeks old and the chicks are truly lovely to look upon. They are healthy and happy and starting grow into juveniles.

July 01st – Mavis ever watchful of her now eight chicks after losing two to the local fox hunting for her own young. These juvees are now around thirty days old.

July 03rd – individual chatacters start to emerge and levels of confidence, was pleased to see Flapper was still with us.

July 04th – sleeping in a tight pack is ideal for warnth after a swim. Mavis is able to take longer ‘time out’ breaks however other ducks are in the vicinity on protection duty.

July 06th – they are such a healthy bunch of drakes and hens.

July 12th – now six weeks old and still together but also not that much smaller than Mavis.

Between the 12th to 24th of July, Mavis and her chicks sometimes took an effort to find. She moved them frequently to the other side of the canal, which had more undergrowth and was closer to the edge of the water where the now-hunting fox cubs wouldn’t go.

I usually walked on the Ropewalk on July mornings quite early – five to six am, and it was only on the rare occasion l used to spot them hidden amongst the reeds. Mavis and her clan would come over to the other side of the canal mid-morning when the foxes were asleep.

The last time l saw them all together was July 24th near the chestnut tree, where many of them still are. Mavis is usually seen with her daughters and a couple of her sons. The others have moved location.

July 24th and now nearly eight weeks of age, Flapper is still keen to display his signature behaviour. Some of his brothers do it but not as well as him. Mavis and the rest of her clutch were sleeping by the chestnut tree out of the frame.

So there we go folks – Mavis – Mama Duck One and her family.
See you next time and thanks for reading.

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7 thoughts on “Mavis

    1. Hey Ruth, good morning to you and wishing you a lovely Saturday.

      Aside from picking each duckling up and sexing there isn’t much of reliable way of telling them apart at too young an age.

      Mike at the reserve told me that sometimes you can tell by the colouring of the younger ducklings – plain versus patterned, but that can also swing both ways on sexing.

      However the colouring again rears up as a potential way of sexing by around six weeks of age, when there are slight differences to be seen in wings and head.

      When mature ducks are going through the eclipsing period [June 04th shows male] sometimes first year males cannot be told apart from females by those new to ducks, but the males head is marginally darker than a female.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a wonderful chronical of Mavis and her brood and their development, Rory! I enjoyed both the pictures and the text immensely! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I found it amazing that Mavis was able to move her whole brood such a distance when they were still so young. I suppose that was instinctive behavior, for survival purposes?

    I sure am looking forward to the next two episodes. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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