Maggie, our pet duck, came to visit again this morning. When the sun is shining she comes off her nest for an hour, comes to the cottage, calls out for me and we go worm hunting.
She knows exactly where to go for the worms, the herb garden. So we waddle over to the other side of the garden, though sometimes she cheats and flies. She calls out to Pumpjack to join us, if he is working in his workshop nearby. We then lift stepping stones and plant pots, whilst she looks underneath to see if there is anything juicy to eat.
Slugs are nice, but worms are the best, especially fat juicy ones. Ants are a kind of dessert.
After we stuff her full of protein its time for the veg. I generally grab a handful of lettuce when she calls for me at the cottage. Her favourite is ‘Batavia’, a slightly curly leaf and obviously superior flavour. (This is also the chickens favourite.)
I break off little bits and put them in a bowl of water. Ducks prefer to eat their food in or around water, preferably water with dirt or grit in it. It is the dirt that helps them digest it and the water makes it easier to swallow. But her favourite thing is to stick her beak into the handful of lettuce herself and tug out bits to munch.
With meat and veg done it is time to wash up. Herself that is. She flings water from the bowl over her feathers and then proceeds to preen, particularly her chest feathers and then around the head. She uses her beak to pull and fluff the damp feathers, separating them out. She then gathers oil from a gland on the back of her tail and using her head rubs it all over her feathers. This gives her that ‘water off a ducks back’ result.
When her feathers have been sorted we head back down to the duck house and her nest. We generally walk to the path that heads down and then she flies the rest of the way. It takes me a little longer to join her. Legs are not as efficient as wings.
She has another wash once down by the nest, but this one is to wet her feathers. She ducks and flings, throwing water over herself. Once her feathers are sufficiently wet she is ready to head back to her nest. The dampness of her body aiding to the heat and humidity around her eggs.
She runs off, back inside the duck house. I watch her disappear around the corner into her little nest area, calling out “Bye bye Maggie”. She always responds with a high pitched, “Fwap, fwap, fwap”, which I translate as “See you tomorrow.”
* (Apologies for quality of videos. We have an old digital camera on its way out and are saving for a new one, but we felt the videos gave a taste of what it is like to be Maggie, even if somewhat pixelated.)