Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jemima Puddle Duck visits Portland Road!

Being away from home as much as I am, I miss all the fun. Here is a story from my daughter Bex in New Zealand. Enjoy it. KR.

When I arrived home last week I went upstairs to my bedroom and glanced out the window. To my surprise there was a beautiful duck and eleven newly-hatched ducklings paddling about in our swimming pool. I rushed out to see them and phoned my mum, Ro, who turned out to be just coming up the drive. She whipped out her camera and came straight to the garden to join me. The ducks and chicks looked so cute quacking away and following their mum around the pool. We quickly realized, however, that the noise they were making was not about having fun, but because they couldn’t get out. They had obviously been swimming around for the best part of the afternoon and were getting tired and frantic. Mummy duck - whom we named Jemima - swam around to each side of the pool and hopped out with the little ones trying desperately to follow. Unfortunately, their little webbed feet slithered all over the sides of the pool; it was just too steep and they kept flopping back in.

So it was Ro and Bex to the rescue! Ro got a plank of wood and placed it like a ramp in the corner of the pool and gradually we coaxed the ducklings over. By this time, Jemima had already hopped out and was quacking madly at them. We managed to get five of the ducklings out, who huddled together on the side of the pool quacking encouragement to their siblings. One of the ducklings got a wee bit confused and, seeing some of his siblings still in the pool, jumped back in only to be stuck again! A few minutes later four more followed leaving just two on the other side of the pool. Finally they swam over and we helped them out.

Jemima tried to lead them back to the creek at the very bottom of the garden, but they were distressed and tired. They eventually found comfort in my garden though unfortunately for them this was right in view of my cat, Alfie. I had locked him inside so he couldn’t have ducklings for dinner, but he was going mad trying to get out, frantically scratching at his cat door. Meanwhile Jemima had spread her wings and completely enveloped all her little babies to keep them protected, warm and dry.

At this point I wasn’t really sure what to do and was worried about them being eaten by neighborhood cats. While Ro duck-sat, I went and phoned the “bird lady” at the SPCA who told me what to do.

Taking her advice, we managed to get Jemima to move off her babies, who immediately started to scatter round the garden. We rounded up the eleven ducklings and put them into a box and walked back past the pool onto the driveway and back down to the stream. They were screeching away while Jemima followed us, quacking at her babies who she could only hear but not see. After making a few wrong turns, she finally found us in the bush and we were able to gently tip the box so the ducklings could hop out into the stream to join their mum and swim safely away.

And I’m please to say there were no feathers found in Alfie’s mouth that night!