Do-Gooders to the Rescue – for Ducks’ Sake !

Ducklings Returned to River 2
Marie Walsh and John Paul Fitzgerald releasing the errant and semi-orphaned duckings back to the River Maine at the Nuns’ Pool on Tuesday. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Since their introduction in 2002, there are so many adventure stories about our local population of Mallard ducks, drakes and ducklings that one could write a book about.
We are right in the middle of the hatching season and again the stories abound this year. The latest is the one where the mother and a clutch were spotted waddling away off down past Rhyno Mills and far from their watery abode.
The father was above in the Nuns’ Pool acting the drake, perched on a rock, preening himself and entertaining a handful of broody ducks.

Took off Flying
Anyway, the mother-on-a-mission was frightened by a lorry it seems and took off flying and leaving the vulnerable little ducklings to whatever fate had in store for them.
At the best of times what fate has in store for the downy little creatures is rarely to their benefit and they need every good turn they can get in their bid to survive.
Meanwhile, back at Mill View, the errant mother having flown off in fright left her nine ducklings in mortal danger. Enter a couple of genuine do-gooders with a deep cardboard box, a square of lattice wire and a plan.

Back to the River
Marie Walsh and John Paul Fitzgerald rounded up the ducklings at the local Pitch and Putt club and were advised to take them back to the river. The box was deep enough to keep the creatures from clambering out.  But for safety sake – even duckling health and safety sake, John Paul decided to commandeer a a square of lattice wire for the couple-of hundred-yards-trip to the river.
He lay the box on the ground for a minute or less. He heard a commotion behind him and two crows lessened the clutch by one each in that blink of an eye.
Now there were seven and I’m lapsing into a kind of an Agatha Christie train of thought.

The Heel of the Hunt
In the heel of the hunt, John Paul and Marie got to the river with their precious cargo. They tipped the box and the remaining seven handsome, tiny creatures spread their stubby little wings and fell, staggered and stumbled into the water.
There, they regained their dignity and became all graceful again and they did to the ducks-to-water bit with a flourish.  They paddled and launched themselves into a rapid and made it to the overhanging vegetation and shelter of the opposite bank.

Perilous Journey
One could only wish the little creatures well as they embarked on the perilous journey to survive without the mother they so depended upon.
And to think that there are parts of this wonderful world we live in on which you could overlay the experience of the ducklings on the lives of children. This, in areas of conflict and where the ravages of fate are every bit as brutal and in frightful need of an intervention by do-gooders.