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Perfect weather for ducks down at WWT Slmbridge

Perfect weather for ducks down at WWT Slmbridge

The unusually hot spring is thought to be behind a boom in ducklings at Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

On the eve of its annual May half term event Downy Duckling Days the Centre is overrun with fluffy ducklings.

Experts at the centre have said the mild weather earlier this year is behind the rise as it encouraged many species to lay their eggs sooner than usual and also appears to have boosted fertility rates by creating more opportunities for breeding.

Several of the species which have laid early are Whistling ducks.  Normally their young would hatch in July but there are already four duckling broods up at the duckery.

Phoebe Young, duckery warden, said: “We are normally busy at this time of year but this is the busiest May I have ever witnessed.

“I think the weather would have given favourable mating opportunities so more eggs were fertile than usual and it seems also to have caused some species to lay their eggs earlier.

“It is great to have the Whistling duck ducklings so soon as they are real characters so I’m pleased people will see them who visit over Downy Duckling Week.

“They are nicknamed the bumble bees as their black and yellow down and rotund shape make them appear to levitate above their legs like bumble bees!

“Their penetrating whistle is captivating and you can hear them chattering amongst themselves from across the duckery.”
Over May half term (Saturday 28 May to Sunday 5 June) families can go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the duckery to see where hundreds of young are reared each year and meet ducklings, goslings and cygnets.

As part of the tour, which is included in the cost of admission, they can see an embryo developing inside an egg using a special technique called candling.

Explroe Gloucestershire
26 May 2011

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