Wednesday, 12 May 2010

It's a gull-eat-duck world

Although I've been told time and time again that the seagulls are probably eating the ducklings in the quad, I've never seen it happen (or even nearly happen), and so have discounted this loss term from the quad duck equation. In fact, the ducks don't seen fazed in the least by the much larger gulls that occasionally swoop down into the quad. So I've assumed these lacks in both observational evidence and avian fear mean that the gulls don't partake of the ducks.

Until now!

A few minutes ago we clocked a gull on the library roof with a dead duckling. We didn't see the nefarious deed itself, so it's possible that we saw an act of scavenging rather than predation. Certainly, duck-on-duck murder has been spotted in the quad before, so the gull could well have been on clean-up detail. Anyway, after a few minutes of manhandling its prey, the gull managed to "reshape" it sufficiently for down-in-one consumption. Impressive and alarming.

On the subject of the ducks, an update on their dwindling numbers.

By last week, the three broods hatched in the quad had been reduced to two. One of the first two broods appears to have been entirely wiped out, with the two remaining ones exhibiting quite differently sized chicks - reflecting their hatching time.

At the start of this week, both broods had about 7 ducklings each. However, since then numbers have fallen slightly such that the older brood now has 5 ducklings, while the younger brood has thinned to 4. These numbers include the recent predation/scavenging event.

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