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 bottom of the stairs, calls out for me and we go searching for worms.
She knows exactly where to go for the worms, our neighbours side of the courtyard. There are a couple trees in a damp corner with lots of leaves underneath. Perfect conditions for worms.
So we waddle over to the other side of the courtyard garden, though sometimes she cheats and flies. She calls out to Pumpjack to join us, if she sees him working in his workshop nearby. We then lift stones, branches 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. Her favourite is ‘Batavia’, a slightly curly leaf and obviously superior flavour. She will often turn her beak up at anything else.
I break off pieces 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 out to the back garden. Once outside she likes to fly to the bottom where the veg garden is. A chance to stretch her wings. She turns right around on landing and waddles as fast as her legs can carry her back up to the barn. Her nest is (usually) in what was the old stable i the barn.
She has another wash once by a water bowl nearer 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 sit on the nest. The dampness of her body aids in creating a humid heat around her eggs.
She runs off, back inside the stable. 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.”