Saturday the 24th December 2022, Sunday the 25th December and Sunday the 01st January 2023
Three Episodes
The Gallery Directory


Sunday 01st January 2023
Mama Duck Three

Music – Fun-and-Upbeat

Holly’s Haunts
All the yellow dots above were Holly’s rearing grounds for her chicks. Where you see the tighter clustering on Delf Street is where she and her chicks started their journey. It gets complicated because at the same time as Holly had her clutch there was an additional Mallard who was sharing the same training waters called Bethyl.
Below you can see part of the same area magnified. The crosses represent where Holly and Bethyl started the chick’s journeys. Holly was in the garden behind the car dealership in Delf Street whilst Bethyl was just off Loop Street.

What you can’t see clearly is that there is the sluice gated moat of the Guestling Stream that runs between Delf street to Loop Street inbetween the houses and then flows behind Loop Court Mews towards the Delf Stream sluice gate which then connects via Gazen Salts and connects to the River Stour.

The diagram above shows how the water flows from the River Stour through Gazen Salts Nature Reserve as the Guestling Stream then crosses over to join the Delf Stream moat on the Butts. The Delf becomes the canal and the Guestling continues on the other side and heads back towards Delf street.

In this last episode of the series, l introduce you to Holly and her clutch and briefly show you Bethyl and hers. Both were mothers who visited parts of the Delf Stream canal and Guestling Stream that ran alongside the Rampart’s circular walk – the Butts.

Unlike Mavis, who mainly stayed on the Ropewalk section and Sally, who was a permanent resident of the Butts, Holly and Bethyl were to be found on the Guestling stream that ran adjacent to the Delf Stream Moat/Canal. Neither was in a fixed position, either. They moved their chicks constantly in the first few to four weeks, which made photographing their journeys hard.

Holly was a favourited duck amongst other ducks; however, Bethyl had Moorhen friends.

Both of these ducks, however, favoured the safety found along the tighter confines of the smaller and slimmer Guestling Stream that flowed behind the gardens of private houses. I suspect that several owners left food out for mothers and their ducklings. The Guestling and the Delf streams run throughout the town of Sandwich in several locations, some hidden from maps and prying eyes. But savvy street ducks know their way around.

I had seen Holly and Bethyl both during May, and they had been sitting on eggs along the banks of the Guestling that ran by the side of Tannery Lane. Their ducklings were marginally older than Mavis’s by June 1st but the exact age of Sally’s. The latter is why l was curious about the strange disappearance of three of Sally’s chicks and the unexpected increase in Holly’s clutch from four to seven to five to eight. The changes and fluctuations in numbers were frequent things.

Meanwhile, Bethyl only had five ducklings but never ventured into the canal area like Holly. Eventually, after an absence of a week to ten days, l found her and her clutch much further into the town up near New street and on the Millwall section of the Rampart’s walk. Bethyl and her brood stayed here in the company of Moorhens and squirrels until August, when she moved location again, unbeknownst to me.

The galleries below for Holly are slim, a few from the first few days of June, then nothing until the first week of July. For Bethyl, there is only one gallery of three images taken in the first week of June.

June 01st to July 06th
June 01st – Holly with eight chicks. I was unsure from day one of seeing her if all these chicks were hers. Sally or Mama Duck Two is roughly twenty feet away on the bankb with her brood.

June 03rd – Holly with a brood of eight ducklings on the forage.

June 04th – Holly with her chicks but not all as now there are only seven. Currently she is to the right of Sally on the bank of the Butts canal.

June 06th – Holly now sited near the Cricket Pavillion on the Butts nowhere near any other cltches with a brood of seven ducklings.

Holly and her ducklings vanished from the Delf Stream Butts Canal after June 06th and didn’t return for nearly a month now all much bigger.

July 02nd – Holly with her brood which numbers eight and she is also swimming alongside Sally with her brood of four. Sally’s drake rides shotgun. All ducks are swimming together on the Butts canal opposite the Cricket Pavillion.

July 06th – Holly and her now eight ducklings swimming together along the Butts near to the cricket grounds. This was the last time l saw them all on the season.

First Week June 2022
Bethyl with her brood of five ducklings on the Guestling Stream sluice gate canal on Delf Street. Bethyl was a pure strain mallard.

So there we go folks – Holly – Mama Duck Three and her family as well as Bethyl Mama Duck Four.

Thanks for reading.

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Howdy Folks, Earthly Comforts is a broad niche wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, also known as ‘worm farming and photography too.

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