Nature Needs No Valentine's Day

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 14, 2006 | Go to article overview

Nature Needs No Valentine's Day


Love is in the air and smallholders everywhere are thinking about procreation SO, how many cards did you get this morning? Sore point? One thing worse than missing out on St Valentine's Day is seeing Cupid at work everywhere else.

The birds have been at it for weeks now, eyeing up the talent and seeking out places to nest. As always, our porch, the eaves of the house and the guttering are proving popular choices. They're already tweeting, chattering, fluttering hives of activity, and I've got into the habit of shaking bird droppings out of my wellies before pulling them on in the morning.

Our goats, however, have finally given up yelling for sex. When females come into season they make an incredible racket, and keep trying to mount one another, or even unsuspecting humans. If things hadn't been so busy, the elder one would have been in kid by now. Time has run out, though, so she'll just have to wait until early autumn.

Our Indian runner ducks have been warming up for the big love-fest. A few months ago, I slimmed down their numbers from more than 20 to just five, and the lucky lone drake among them is now sporting a very fetching green sheen to his head and making lots of noise, so it won't be long before he's racing around the pond in hot pursuit of his companions.

A pair of mallards have paid occasional visits to the pond, presumably doing a recce to assess its suitability for raising offspring, so it'll be interesting to see if they decide to start nesting.

All I hope is that, if any of the ducks do get round to laying eggs, they manage to keep them safe from the wily crows and magpies which snatched so many last year. The most risky time is when they're building up a clutch, laying an egg a day, but leaving the nest unguarded while they go off to feed. Once the clutch is complete, they become fiercely protective, creating a straw fortress so that only head and bill can be seen. …

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