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Archive for February, 2011

Just a quick note for you readers, that I am considering changing the theme (background) of my blog. So for anyone that may be a regular visitor, please don’t panic if one day you come to my blog and find it’s suddenly changed! I have two or three themes in mind to try. I will also update with a post if/ when I decide on one and change it.

Fauna Rescue Update: Actually, there’s not much to update on as the phones have been pretty quiet lately. I’m also thinking of other things I can possibly blog about, so when things are quiet for Fauna Rescue I can still post and give you something to peruse.

Thank you for taking the time to read 🙂

– Carolbird

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Our most recent call- out was to come get a mother duck and her five ducklings out of a pool, as the owner was worried what might happen as she had just got a dog.

When we got there we had a look at the situation. Mother and brood were swimming around in the pool, which looked polluted; the water was almost white. We tried catching the mother first. She flew off then came back a few times, always landing on the back lawn and calling to her young. However, the ducklings seemed to have been having trouble getting out of the pool. The water level was just a little too low for them to be able to jump out, and there wasn’t anything floating on the water for them to jump onto.

As we were having too much trouble catching the mother (I didn’t have high hopes catching her either as we never seem able to do so), we went for the ducklings, whom proved a tricky lot to catch. All five kept diving underwater, staying under for a few seconds, and then appearing again on the opposite side of the pool to where they dived. As the water was so murky, we couldn’t see them once they’d gone under so could not track their movements and get nets underneath them. The situation was proving more difficult than what we first thought. As the ducklings continued to dive and elude us, I grew more concerned as they couldn’t get out of the water. We tried calling for assisstance from the RSPCA and Fauna Rescue (other members), but no-one was available to help. We were on our own. At this point in time, I was quite concerned that this was going to turn into a disaster. Mother duck was there, and her young were calling to her but seemed unable to get out of the water to join her; the water was polluted and the ducklings kept diving and avoiding our nets. If the ducklings kept up the diving and could not get out of the water, it was a possibility that they would drown.

After a little while, however, one duckling managed to jump out of the pool. It ran off to join its mother somewhere at the back of the yard (a yard full of bushes, creeper, shrubs, webs and mice). At least one duckling was out of the pool, but mother was being rather quiet. Not wanting to tire out the ducklings, we stayed back, trying to get some assistance from other people. No one could help. The owner placed a couple of rakes and the pool net in a corner of the pool where the ducklings had got out before, with the ends floating in the pool so the ducklings could use that to get out.

In the meantime mother duck had lead one duckling into the garage. I followed her in and closed the exits. My mum came in too, and we went for the mother again. She fluttered a bit and came crahsing down, landing in a small box of glass bottles. Mum threw a towel over her and tried wrapping it around her to get hold of her. The duck managed to slip out of the towel but, before she could flutter away again, I grabbed her and quickly shoved her into the cat cage we had brought with us. We now had the mother. All we had to do now was catch her young and we could relocate them all. If we had not caught the mother, we would have caught the ducklings and raised them ourselves.

We had to wait for the ducklings to get out of the pool themselves, as they would be much too hard to get out with nets, as they kept scattering and diving out of sight. I took mother duck, in the cage, to the lawn and placed her near the pool where she and her ducklings could see and hear each other. I hoped that this would coax the ducklings out. Four were still in the pool, one was hiding somewhere in the garage where its mother had left it.

After a long wait, the ducklings in the pool finally started to come out, one at a time and with much difficulty. However, I lost track of one. as I did not see him come out and had not seen him for a while I grew concerned that he had drowned. The owner pointed out that because we had not been watching the pool every second (I kept checking to see if I could find the duckling in the garage) it was possible that he had jumped out of the pool when weren’t watching.

Mother duck was very quiet, and would not call to her young. We found this a little strange but came to the conclusion that she did not want her ducklings found once they’d come out of the pool so did not call to them. As we waited for the remaining three, I kept checking in the garage. At one point I heard peeping, checked again in the section where mother had hidden, and finally found the little duck hiding right in the corner. I called to mum who had the nets, and we captured him. We put him in a seperate basket and placed him next to his mother in the yard. One duckling down, four to go.

Finally the others came out one at a time, and looking quite tired; immediately after getting out they ran and hid in the creeper amongst the bushes. They were all scattered now. In the meantime I was having second thoughts as to whether one had drowned or not; there was no body floating in the water like I thought there would be if it had.

Once all the ducklings were out, we began our search for the ducklings now hiding very quietly in the garden. Walking around quietly and peering into bushes and the creeper that seemed to cover that entire section of the yard; I kept my ears open for any rustling or peeping. After a while I heard movement, and saw the leaves of the creeper move that indicated there was a duckling in there. Mum and I grabbed our nets and tried blocking his way. It was very diffcult. The duckling was right up against the fence and at one point hid behind a sheet of metal in the corner; we were also concerned about any spiders hiding in the webs. After a while, however, we managed to catch the duckling and put him with his sibling in the basket.

The next duckling was found in the same section of creeper a little while later, however, he was a little more difficult as he had wedged himself in amongst the small, dense branches of the creeper. Worried he was going to squash himself to death, I did my best to pull the branches away from the duckling but he just wedged himself in further. I pulled on the branches more and tried getting my hand in to pull him out…and then he managed to free himself and ran along the fence a bit. I managed to grab him too, and now we had three ducklings.

We searched a little for the fourth, but all was quiet, it was getting late and we had to get the others home. Mum let the owner know to call Fauna Rescue again if she spotted either of the two missing ducklings (including the one that we weren’t sure had drowned or not) the next day. We weren’t going to be on call, but we had the family, and would be keeping them for a little while for observation before relocating them.

As they talked I continued the search, but only found mice staring at me from the back fence and running up and down a small tree. If the missing ducklings didn’t survive the night, or got themselves caught in the bushes the mice would most certainly get them.

We picked up the mother and ducklings, and were just turning to leave when I spotted movement in a bush right next to the pool. The wind was blowing but the movement was not consistent with the wind. Deciding to check it out in case it was one of the ducklings, I carefully walked over, knelt down and pulled back the leaves of the bush. There, sitting quietly was a Pacific Black Duckling. He was obviously tired, and had his head in between branches, but I got him out easily. Mum and I were relieved, and the owner looked absolutely delighted. Only one to go now, unless he had drowned, but we weren’t one hundred percent sure of that.  Once again mum let her know to call us if the last duckling showed up, and we took our leave.

Back home we had to put the family in the cocky cage, which would be fine for one or two days. Mother was of course agitated and tried finding a way out, even trying what she knew was the door. We realized that she and the seven slightly older ducklings we already had in our care could hear each other. The ducklings wanted to see this mother duck, and mother duck wanted the ducklings she could hear. She even seemed to be ignoring her own ducklings to answer the others.

We rang a couple of people on the matter, and both gave us the same advice. Try putting one of the older ducklings in with mother and family and see what happens. If mother accepts that duckling, she would likely accept the rest; it’s what she wants. I put one duckling in with her and she accepted it straight away. The remaing six strayed out of their pen, and we hearded them towards the cocky cage. Mother duck watched and called out as we rounded the rest up and put them into the pen with her.

I don’t think any of the ducks could quite believe it. Mother duck suddenly had a bigger family, and the seven ducklings suddenly had a mother again. Mother duck calmed down considerably once she had adopted the others. We were very pleased with this unexpected turn of events.

At about nine o’clock at night we got a phone call. It was the owner. As it turned out the last duckling was alive, and was swimming around in the pool crying out for its mother. We were relieved it was still alive, but I also felt guilty that we had left it behind. It was dark now, so we quickly grabbed torches and drove back to the house. On the way I hoped we would make it in time. The duckling was all alone, swimming and would get chilled very quickly without mother’s warmth; I was also concerned that he might drown from exhaustion (like we had thought had happened in the first place). We got there, and the owner came out with the pool net, a sodden and tired duckling inside. I gently took it out, placed it in the basket and wrapped the towel around it for warmth. We thanked the owner, relieved the duckling was caught so quickly (the net was still in the pool, and when the duckling jumped in she just scooped him out). I kept a close eye on the duckling on the way home, hoping he wasn’t too chilled; I heard him call out at one stage and knew he was warming up.

Back home I placed him in a box inside, grabbed a sibling from the others outside (with mother hissing a little) and put them together. This was to give the little duckling time to warm up and get his strength back before putting him with the others. Fortunately it was a relatively warm night, as the lamp we use decided not to work. We left the siblings together for an hour so (with food and water), before deciding that the newest arrival was ok and that they would be best with their mum. Mother duck had settled well with all the ducklings, and we placed the two in there with no problems. The newest seemed to recognize mum and cuddled in with the others straight away. My only concern was that because the other seven were older, they were also bigger than mother duck’s five. It was also a little cramped in there and I was worried someone might get squashed overnight; I took out their swimming water and gave them a large water well instead.

Next morning all was well; they had all settled with each other completely and everyone was alive and well. We contacted another Fauna Rescue member who could take them to her sister’s dam on an adjoining property to hers. It was a bit of a walk to the dam, but was well worth it. Food was put out for the ducks, and then we released the ducklings onto the dam. They gathered together and started swimming away. I then released mother (who was facing the wrong way at first). She immediately swam to her biological and newly- fostered young. The ducklings fell into line behind her and they swam away across the large dam. We watched on in delight as mother lead her young to a small ‘island’ near the other side of the dam…

Being able to successfully re-release animals back into the wild is the best feeling. They are back where they belong. Some days are very trying but it’s rescues like these that make it all worth while. Not only did we succsessfully catch mother, her entire family and relocate them, but she adopted the seven orphans we already had in our care as well…and they were all released together; one big happy family. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome 🙂

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