A few weeks back, a building company called Ardmore Construction got in touch with the GWN in regards to a duck that had laid eggs in a planter on a roof terrace in Greenwich, at a block of flats where the company were carrying out major works.
Her nest was at the very edge of the planter, inches away from a 100ft drop - meaning that once hatched, her ducklings were at high risk of plummeting off the building to their deaths.
Although she had chosen an extremely unfortunate spot to nest, this duck’s luck was about to change. Ardmore Construction were acutely aware of the laws surrounding disturbing nesting birds, and were eager to work with the GWN to find a solution for this little duck family.
We suggested that whilst causing as minimal noise and disruption to the nesting duck as possible, they build a barrier around the planter to prevent the ducklings from walking off the edge once hatched. We also requested that they add a ramp to direct the ducklings from the planter to a safe spot on the ground, where we had the highest chance of catching both mum and her babies.
They obliged without hesitation, and within a day or two all of these suggestions had been enacted. The company even blocked off a small gap under some decking that the ducklings could have wedged themselves under, to make our job easier.
The duck was also lucky in that her nest was directly opposite the balcony of a kind and nature loving local man called Jack, who agreed to monitor the nest and alert us ASAP the moment the ducklings hatched. He even set up a camera with a 24 hour live feed.
For the past few weeks we’ve been waiting anxiously for news of the ducklings hatching, and last night Jack got in touch to say that shells had began to crack, and little cheeps could be heard.
By this morning, there were seven ducklings and we headed over in hopes of catching the entire family. After such a long wait and so much preparation, we were anxious that we would fail to catch the mother duck - which is always very tricky as ducks are so fast and easily spooked.
Things didn’t go entirely to plan however; instead of using the ramp and getting down on the floor, the mother duck and her babies had remained in the planter, where it wasn’t possible to maneuver the net between the plants. The only option was for me to climb up some scaffolding to get in the planter and grab the mother duck with my hands. It was a tense few seconds before I made my move, but thankfully I managed to grab mum without issue and then it was simply a matter of rounding up the ducklings. The family were then all safely in animal carriers; a big relief.
We then relocated mum and her ducklings to a local lake, where they swam off happily in the sunshine. A brilliant result, secured thanks to the efforts of Ardmore Construction, who unlike other companies that flout animal welfare regulations, went above and beyond to ensure the safety and well-being of this nesting bird, and Jack, who did such a great job of monitoring her and keeping us updated. Good people do exist - and it’s nice to have a reminder.