Four Mallards

Four male mallards are in the cloister garden early in the morning when I open the delicately ironed white starched cafe curtains of my cloister room window to check the weather before venturing off to lauds. The male ducks in their bright green satin collars and brown heads and white bibs are either on the roof or in the grass below. Bathing in the cloister pool seems to come later with the sun a little higher in the sky. This morning the four mallards were there literally chasing Mrs Duck across the grass! Mrs Duck has already chosen a nest next to the door amongst the wisteria trunks but she was obviously out in search of breakfast or for a stroll. After reading up on the mating rituals of mallard ducks (after all the ways of nature are transpiring right beneath my window!) this seems to be pretty common – chasing Mrs Duck and harassing her.The males fight each other pecking and making loud quacking noises which is also going on in the cloister garden! She finally flew to the roof herself to escape the barrage of attention. Not all of the males are successful with Mrs Duck so all of this posturing and chasing continues until Mrs Duck lays 8-13 eggs which then have 28-30 days of incubation and then 45-60 for fledgling ducklings to appear. All five, the four male mallards and Mrs Duck can also be seen in the courtyard on my way to or from Lauds foraging for a breakfast amongst the daffodils. One morning they barely escaped, flying away across the daffodils as the huge trash truck maneuvered the cobblestone courtyard. Bath time….Mr Mallard is fascinating to watch as he splashes in the cloister garden pool and then stands on a rock in the middle so only his red webbed feet are in the water. He air dries a bit then he flies to the roof ridge and flaps his wings and peeks and pokes at this feathers and waves his tail like a clock pendulum several times. Quite a drying and preening procedure. When all is to his liking, he settles down his feet curled beneath him and perches on the ridgepole for a nap. I am going for my breakfast and I suspect he will be gone when I return.

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