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  • Writer's pictureRae Gellel

Another Nine Ducklings Rescued at the Royal Arsenal

Another nine ducklings rescued from the Royal Arsenal complex this evening - from the same ornamental lagoon as the last brood, although at the opposite end. Once again they hatched, only to enter the lake which has such steep sides, they were unable to climb out again - meaning they'd eventually become cold and exhausted. The building management also simply do not want them there. These are disastrous conditions for wildlife and the same scenario repeats itself multiple times a year, year after year. Everyone from the RSPCA, to the Swan Sanctuary, the Swan Patrol and New Hope Animal Rescue have attended duckling rescues at the Arsenal over the years!

Sadly by the time we arrived, one duckling had already drowned and was beyond the point of CPR. The resident who contacted us, and was very helpful throughout the rescue, told us fishing their bodies out is a regular occurrence each summer.

We caught the surviving ducklings fairly quickly, but in spite of hours of trying, we just could not capture mum. Fully flighted ducks are always among one of the hardest species to catch, so from the offset we knew our chances of getting the whole family were slim - nonetheless, it was pretty gutting.

We came prepared with heat pads so that we wouldn't be fretting about the ducklings getting cold whilst attempting to catch her. Even then, it was utterly hopeless - mum kept flying up onto a roof and would come nowhere near - but none of us wanted to throw in the towel. Complicating the matter further were several drakes constantly harassing her, repeatedly scaring her off.

Two of our volunteers even got in the water in their clothes to help herd her, and at one point I resorted to squatting at chin level in the water, with a sheet on my head, trying to surprise her as she turned a corner with my waders rapidly filling with water due to a hole, but it was all entirely hopeless. She did not even get close.

Eventually as the sun set, pursued by the drakes, she flew off and didn't return, and we had to call it a day, all of us cold and wet and sad. Nine little lives saved though, and that's some consolation.

Now I'm going to bed!

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