Mallard ducklings

In today’s wildlife adventures with an iPhone, I want to encourage you to use your smartphone camera (mine’s an iPhone) to reconnect with the natural world.

We’re constantly hearing how bad smartphones are so let’s find a way to use them to help us reconnect with the natural world; technology can help focus our attention and encourage us to zoom in for a closer look at the flora and fauna we may normally glance at but then almost immediately redirect our attention back to something more ordinary (like Facebook).

To inspire you to create your own smartphone story, I’m going to keep offering examples of the things I spot and I hope to see some of the things you see on your travels too.


These Mallard ducklings are being watched closely by their parents for good reason as they’re extremely vulnerable for the first 50 to 60 days of their life; however, within a few months from now, they’ll be independent and will have to fend for themselves.

As I re-watch the video it seems unfair that these buoyant balls of fluff will soon face the world and its hazards alone – but that’s exactly what’s expected from these ducklings as their parents will quickly begin to feel that their work here is done.

In the meantime, these ducklings are learning to feed themselves and their parents are teaching them what’s edible.

On the plus side, they may not need to rely on their mother for warmth over the next few days; however, the nights can quickly cool down and she’ll ensure they don’t leave her (yet) as there’s relative safety in numbers. The list of predators is lengthy – from Herons, crows, magpies and foxes to large predatory fish. With a bit of luck, some of these ducklings may live beyond twenty but they will always need to remain alert to danger.

Soon flight will come naturally to them as they fledge from the family and eventually, after a few comical attempts, take naturally and gracefully to the air. If that all sounds too soon – consider that they may well be parents themselves within a year. They certainly grow up fast, don’t they?

And when they do grow up, they’ll encounter well-intentioned human beings heaving loaves of bread at them at the park. And they’ll find themselves unable to resist a white slice of Warburton’s. But it won’t do them any good at all. I’ve seen geese at lakes with angel wing a disease observed in waterfowl and believed to be caused by humans feeding bread at ponds and lakes. There’s nothing wrong with feeding these birds but my advice is to leave the bread in the bread bin (where it belongs – unless it’s in the toaster!) and invest in a bag of Haith’s duck and goose mix.

Notes: video filmed at Hubbard’s Hills, Louth, England

One thought

  1. Dear Simon

    This looks great. We look forward to seeing more.

    We don’t always have time to comment on your items on the blog – hopefully others will. (We very much liked the hoverflies!)

    There is little clear scientific evidence of a link between feeding bread to ducks and the development of “angel wing” and we wouldn’t

    want to discourage less well-off families from the pleasures of interacting with birds. But good to recommend a better option – the Haith’s mix.

    They are more likely to ingest glyphosate than to develop “angel wing” if they eat Warburton’s bread!

    Best wishes

    John and Margaret


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