Quakie has been lazing all day in and around the pond with her drake and they don’t seem particularly concerned even when I go near the nest, or put my hand inside to feel for eggs. I had avoided doing that for the longest time so as not to freak Quakie out, but we are getting more puzzled that she hasn’t started sitting on her eggs and are curious how many she has already laid, whether she’s stopped laying or if she intends to lay any more. We don’t know why she isn’t feeling broody – are her hormones out of whack or is there some other reason?
I’ve read that un-incubated duck eggs stay viable for only around 10 days. If that is true also for wild duck eggs, Quakie is certainly in trouble, since I am pretty sure she started laying eggs on the 7th March, which would make the oldest egg about 16 days old. Also we’ve had the impression she hasn’t been laying any eggs for the last few days, though we could be wrong.
One theory I have is that she’s gearing up to lay another clutch of eggs. She has been eating like a pig, starting from about 2 days ago. She actually comes looking for us at the house up to 3 times a day to ask for frozen green peas. She’s not content with just a small handful anymore, so I laid a small plastic box outside the kitchen door filled with water and peas, and she chomps down almost all of them before she is sated. (She doesn’t seem to like the peas once they are defrosted – I guess the frozen ones taste as yummy for her as ice cream for us.)
Today I sneaked out to the nest when Quakie and Frankie were away from the pond. They were foraging under the bushes and looking for snails in the flower beds. The inside of the Duck Tube was quite stuffed with straw, and I had to remove enough of it to just uncover the eggs, then took out each egg carefully, laying them on top of the straw in a basket – just to make sure I didn’t miss any.
There were 13 large eggs! They were all beautifully smooth, dry and intact, but cool to the touch. Obviously not been sat on, since it was as cold as the ambient temperature – about 10 deg C. The weather has been quite dry – I wonder if it had been raining, if that would make the eggs go bad faster.
I pencilled a cross mark on each egg before replacing each back in the nest. If she starts laying in there again, we will know which eggs are the new and which the old, and we can remove the old ones if necessary.