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  • It was the end of Mallard nesting season. A bright and lovely morning. I was just up and had laid the garden table for a breakfast outside in a quiet, empty garden. As I walked out with my tea and toast however I discovered I was not as alone as had seemed to be the case.

    She'd apparently been hiding out in the ivy on the outer side of my fence. She and her two ducklings leaving the nest had plopped down into the garden & couldn't get out. She flew off & was outside the fence and the ducklings were inside squawking and unable to follow. It was all very frantic and tragic as the babies squealed and the mother flew further and further off.

    I froze for a moment, undecided as to what on earth I should do (now was not the time in my life to be given ducklings to raise!) the computer was on inside so I took my breakfast to twitter and received advice to call the RSPB. They said "don't touch the ducks, their hearts don't take excitement well, remove a fence panel if you can't get them out of the side gate, and the mother will lead them to the nearest water. If you can placate them with food/water in the meantime that may help." That seemed like a plan. I was calmer now. I knew what to do.

    At least I thought I knew what to do.

    Just as I got off the phone I turned toward the door and was faced with the mother duck and her ducklings who had decided the best place to go and sort out their little dilemma was inside my house.

    I looked at her. She looked at me.

    "Umm.. hello" I said.

    Then came the most surreal caper around my living room I have ever experienced. As I tried to gently persuade the ducks out of the door again, they took refuge under the dining room table, as I went up that end of the house they ran down to the lounge end, and vice versa. I got a bowl of water left it beside the dining table and sat down at the other end of the room with a cup of tea to reconsider my options.

    The Mallard and her brood had a little sit down next to the bowl of water and calmed down a bit.. I was relieved as the last thing I needed was for her to keel over from fright and leave me with fluffy orphans to keep. it seemed like, given a sensible think, one of us would surely come up with a better idea than chasing up and down my living space in panic.

    Eventually I decided to very carefully block off one end of the living room and by going around the back of the table encourage the wild ducks to move away from me with the only path open for them to move to would then be through the kitchen back out to the garden again.

    I proceeded with operation duck eviction. It worked!

    Back outside though, there I was back to square one as the mother duck flew off and a couple of crazy ducklings decided to avoid the open gate like the plague and run around my garden screaming in their tiny ducky voices instead. It was impossible to herd them anywhere useful. The fence panels were too big and heavy for me to lift and a lot of them are bound by ivy anyway. Then I remembered there was a smaller panel where the garden was an odd shape at the far back corner. I was able to slide up the smaller panel enough to wedge a big stone underneath and that few inch gap was enough for the duck to coach her babes out to join her.

    Sliding the fence panel back into place I went outside to find the ducks gone, with no noise and no trace, never to be heard from again. Probably for the best. Wild birds are most certainly not the most relaxing of breakfast companions.
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