We returned from our trip on the morning of 28th of February to a duck-less pond. This was not so to be for long, however!
While I was still unpacking a few hours later, we were surprised to see that Quakie and her partner had reappeared and were swimming merrily around the pond like they had been there all along. According to our neighbour he had been observing our pond and hadn’t seen a duck there the entire 2 weeks we were away. Could Quakie have also been observing our house and waiting for us to come home? Or had she just appeared on that day completely by coincidence? As usual these were questions no one can answer.
Afraid that we would scare the skittish ducks away again, we were careful not to approach them too closely and left them mostly alone for the first few days we were back home. Quakie and Frankie were there almost every day but would occasionally disappear an entire day and then reappear the next day at our pond again.
Meanwhile, we saw that the Koi fish were looking a bit off-colour. Quite usual for this time of the year when it’s not warm enough for their immune systems to restart however the microbes and other fish disease-causing organisms are starting to multiply already. Additionally the pump or any pond equipment hadn’t been running for weeks since temperatures had been below freezing quite a lot in February. Since our main filter pump was still broken (we thought) we decided to lower a small drainage pump in the pond and feed the off-water pipe into the large filter unit as a temporary solution. Unfortunately, even that was broken and lots of thumping did not help. We did however try to push down the Loch Ness monster of the skimmer pipe that had resurfaced again after the last freeze, turning on and off the main pond pump in an effort to get it restarted again. Miraculously, whatever blockage that had prevented the water from moving in the pipes had dissolved or loosened, and everything went back to normal. The pipe sunk back down, and the filter started running smoothly again. We were relieved not to have to go to the trouble and expense (> 1000 Euros) of getting and installing a new pump, which would also involve draining the pond so I could get in there to reconnect and rearrange all the piping and electrical cabling. However again that is just a matter of time since the pump is probably over 10 years old by now, out of warranty and has already been repaired once (home repair).
Anyway back to the ducks: things changed with their behaviour quite suddenly about 5 days ago. We got up in the morning and opened the windows facing the pond as usual, and instead of acting nervous as she had done the previous weeks, Quakie immediately jumped out of the pond and started waddling towards the house. This we recognised as her signal to us that she was hungry.
We rushed to get dressed and went to the yard to feed her. We had some cracked poultry grains left from last year, as well as 2 fresh bags recently bought. Quakie acted like she had always been there with us – she chatted to us with soft whistles and grunts. We like to joke that her names for us are “Peep” and “Peep peep” (actually more like “Püüp” and “püp püp”)
Since that day, neither she nor her drake have left the pond or its immediate environs. She comes to our door every morning now, and sometimes right into the house to “fetch” us to go get her food from the garden shed. We have even discovered “messages” she left outside our terrace door, kitchen door and in front of the garden shed – showing that she had attempted to get access to the food while we were still in bed in the morning, and had looked for us in the usual places.
We managed to catch sight of her entering the duck nesting tube once, but otherwise have not been so lucky to see where she may have built her nest. It is clear from her contented and calm behaviour and that of her mate that they have finally chosen their nesting location, have started populating it with eggs, and it is somewhere in our yard.
We don’t want to search for it in case we frighten her away – this is unlikely since she is now as fearless and familiar with us as she ever was – but we still don’t want to stress her out. She has, after all, learned to be much more wild than the regular house or domestic duck. A true wild duck would need to keep the location of her nest secret. If she is indeed laying, it won’t be long before she will start to incubate the eggs – perhaps by next week if she lays 10 eggs (1 per day), and we will then hopefully be able to see where her nest is by observing her movements to and from the nest.
Meanwhile, we are enjoying the privilege of Quakie’s presence in the pond every day – it is hard to describe the pleasure of seeing those two lovey dovey ducks on the pond where it had been so quiet for the previous 6 months. We had really missed her and are amazed and happy she is back, strong and healthy.
Now we are just wondering if Tipsy will also return soon. Last year there was a huge battle for the pond by the mates of our two duck siblings, and as much as we look forward to see Quakie’s sweet-natured sister, we don’t want them to have to fight like that again!