Strange venue for a reunion!

 

About half o' half marathon!

With bed and breakfast running at almost full tilt for the past few weeks, the days are flying by and there certainly aren’t enough hours in them – at least not for blogging, a situation not helped by some very annoying computer problems! We did make time a week last Saturday however, which was a glorious day, to go and watch the Skye half-marathon. The main reason for going was that our neighbour, Paul, had arrived back in the glen the previous day after spending more than twelve months out of the country, and was determined to take part in the race once more. It had to be one of the strangest venues for a reunion but it was great to see him again and despite jet-lag, he performed better than he’d anticipated! It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours – for Dorinha, Kevin and myself at least – in the sunshine, cheering on the competitors.

Awaiting the jet-lagged jogger! (Sorry Paul, I know you're a runner really!)

That wasn’t the only important event that weekend however. The Wick Chick sharing the nest with Puff hatched one chick that seemed happy to scramble all over mum and its ducky aunt! Twenty four hours later however and she still hadn’t left the nest, even though there was no evidence of further chicks. Being concerned about the need for the youngster to feed, I picked both hen and chick from the nest and they eagerly accepted food and water. They still returned to the duck nest at night however and I suspect that the Wick Chick would have continued to do so until all the other eggs are hatched. As the remaining eggs are duck eggs, she would have had a further two-week wait! Consequently she’s been actively discouraged from returning to the nest.

Getting crowded!

And in the nest-box next door, guess what? Biggles has decided to go broody once more! She’d come back into lay the previous week and we’d been enjoying sharing her eggs with our guests. Three days prior to her turning broody, we decided to have a go at incubating the eggs ourselves, so put three china eggs in the nest to encourage her to continue laying there rather than somewhere more ‘interesting’! We couldn’t believe it when she decided to sit tight, especially as she only had that day’s ‘live’ egg under her! It would have been pretty disappointing five weeks down the line to just produce one duckling, so when she left the nest to feed and preen, I surreptitiously exchanged two of the china eggs for the two of the genuine article we had reserved. She seemed none the wiser and is still sitting as I write. Biggles’ incubating abilities are just fine, but as she demonstrated earlier in the season, her parenting skills aren’t that great. Will she be better second time around, or will we end up taking over? Fortunately, Puff should have her ducklings by the time Biggles hatches hers, so hopefully the proper way to do things will be in on display for a duck who’s less gifted in that department!

Second attempt

All the other youngsters at Garybuie are doing well. The ducklings are now eight weeks old and are fully grown, unfortunately for them! Two of them seem to have the ‘runner’ stance, so we’ll hang on to them for a wee while longer to see if they’re female, in which case I’m sure that Francis Drake will be very happy! Also at eight weeks old, is Broody Brenda’s chick. They have now parted company and consequently the young pullet spends most of her time alone, apart from feeding time and bed time, when she returns to the home of the ARs! Two or three times a day however, Mum and daughter get back together for some general preening or a spot of sunbathing!

Shared moment

Meanwhile, the fifteen chicks which we hatched are four weeks old and have enjoyed several days out in the garden over the past couple of weeks when the weather’s been warm enough. In fact they’re out at the moment and while I was collecting them for transportation to the great outdoors this morning, I realised that they’re almost fully feathered now and as the weather is warm, maybe it’s time to move them into the garden permanently. It’s far a more interesting environment than the brooder pen.

Outdoor activities

And finally, with all these young ‘whipper-quackers’ hogging the poolside, Biggles has found that queuing to perform daily ablutions is not an option when there’s a nest of eggs needing her attention. Consequently, a small private facility seems to be the solution….  

Standing room only!

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