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15/05/15: Five weeks ago, a female mallard duck appeared in an enclosed, first-floor courtyard within one of the buildings in RTÉ. She made herself a nest within one of the planters and, content with the location, proceeded to lay a total of ten eggs. Staff working nearby, including Roisin and Breege, kept Mum fed and watered, and content.
Fast forward to last Wednesday, and those eggs began to hatch. Soon viewers to NestWatch were rewarded with the sight of little duckling heads nervously poking their heads out from underneath their mother. Our new arrivals had everyone talking: Mooney Goes Wild's NestWatch 2015: The Mallards was featured on The Ray D'Arcy Show, and on RTÉ News: www.rte.ie/news/2015/0513/700889-ducks-rte/.
But it is in the best interests of the ducklings to reach water within 24 hours of hatching, so very early on Thursday morning, Derek and his 'A' team of Eric Dempsey (ornithologist), Niall Hatch (Development Officer with BirdWatch Ireland), Ricky Whelan (Dublin Bay Birds Project Assistant with BirdWatch Ireland) and Roisin O'Meachair and Breege Keegan (who work close to where the duck had nested) liberated Mum and her babies from within the courtyard and relocated them to nearby Herbert Park.
The A Team. Eric, Niall, Ricky, Breege and Roisin in Herbert Park
To hear the story of that relocation, tune into RTÉ Radio 1 this Sunday, May 17th at 10pm, for a Mooney Goes Wild Nestwatch special.
Click here to view our NestWatch 2015: The Mallards album on Flickr.
Here, in the grounds of RTÉ, a female mallard duck has laid her eggs, and over the next few weeks, we'll be following the fortunes of our latest feathered family on NestWatch 2015: The Mallards... We expect the eggs to hatch next Thursday, May 14th.
13/05/15 - An update from Roisin in International on our mallard duck mum and her eggs: "I went in last night just to see how she is. Got quite a good look at the eggs at one point. I think we could be looking at 8 or 9 eggs!"
14/05/15 - At approx. 7am this morning, our female mallard duck and her TEN young ducklings were liberated from the RTÉ courtyard where Mum had spent the last five weeks, and where her eggs hatched, into a local park. Further details and photos to follow!
About the Mallard Duck:
Status: Resident, winter migrant from Iceland, Fennoscandia, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium & France. Additional captive-bred birds are released each year for hunting.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is regarded as Secure by BirdLife International.
Identification: Among the largest of our ducks (with the exception of Shelduck). Males with striking green head, yellow bill, white ring around the necj, grey underparts, blue speculum, black rump. Females brown in colour, but with blue speculum, dark stripe across the eye and whitish tail sides.
Similar Species: Males are unmistakable. Females and juveniles resemble other female and immature dabbling ducks.
Call: Male with nasal 'rheab', repeated when alert on water, and short whistle during courtship. Loud quacking of females.
Diet: Diet highly variable, and plant material, particularly seeds predominate. A range of animal material is also taken, including molluscs and crustaceans. Other food taken includes grain and stubble, and they have been shown to feed on a variety of food items presented by humans.
Breeding: Nest sites vary, mostly in ground where hidden in vegetation.
Wintering: Mallard are the most widespread species, although not quite as numerous as Wigeon or Teal. They occur in almost all available wetland habitats in Ireland.
Where To See: Common throughout Ireland. Loughs Neagh & Beg in County Antrim, Wexford Harbour & Slobs in County Wexford, Lough Foyle in County Derry, Strangford Lough in County Down and Lough Swilly in County Donegal are among the top wintering sites (1,000-5,500 birds).
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey.
Information courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland (www.birdwatchireland.ie)