Sunday, 24 June 2012

...and two makes seven!

Another morning trip to Dovedale to pick up litter and check on the river level and the stepping-stones!
The road was flooded and the wave produced by the wheels of the vehicle sent a Mallard mum and her youngsters out from the cover of the bank and into the middle of the fast-flowing river. The youngsters being big enough now to take care of themselves, I wasn't unduly worried for their safety but, nonetheless, watched their progress: 1..2..3..4..5 young Mallards - well done mum! Then I suddenly remembered; the pale female, in this area for the past few weeks, and her seven youngsters...
Now, Mallards are not uncommon in Dovedale but every year when the new broods arrive it is impossible not to follow their progress. With each female occupying a territory so that, in addition to her markings, it is fairly easy to monitor the progress of individual families, it is always interesting to see how many of the original brood make it through. And no matter how common they may be, it always a little saddening to realise that not all the chicks from a particular family have made it to adulthood.  So here was my 'Thorpe Cloud Family' down in number by two.  Oh well, that's life. And the remaining five seemed to be coping well with what nature had to throw at them thus far.
Slightly saddened, I have to admit, I put the vehicle back in gear and started off down the road. Which immediately sent two young Mallards rushing out from the shelter of the bank to join their mother and siblings in the torrent!! Having made it expertly to the other side of the river, the family cruised smoothly under Thorpe Cloud. I felt the need to double-check: 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. 7!  Well done little guys and well done mum! I do like a happy ending!

Simon, Dovedale Ranger.

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