Michelle Salter writes:
This year, chicks have done surprisingly well at the pond. We’re not sure what to put this down to, it could be the addition of the islands creating new habitats, or perhaps some of the predatory mink were scared away by the dredgers.
Whatever the reason, our baby ducks, geese, swans, moorhens and coots have thrived. One family of mallards was noticeable as it contained a single white chick amongst the brood of eleven. Blondie, as we have called her (or him) is growing up nicely along with her siblings.
The appearance of Blondie led me to go online to research the incidences of ‘mallard mongrels’ and I discovered they’re a fairly common occurrence. Domestic breeds of duck have bred with wild mallards for years. Many wild birds have the genes of domesticated birds in their ancestry. The rogue gene can suddenly produce a chick with an unusual feature or colouring amongst an otherwise normal brood.
I came across the disrespectful terms ‘Manky Mallard’ and ‘Ganky Geese’ to describe this phenomenon. I think this is an insult to the much maligned mallard and got at goose, so I’m renaming these unique birds Marvellous Mallards and Glorious Geese.
Blondie is a beautiful duck. Her rogue gene may have come from a Pekin duck, which is a domesticated farm duck, bred for meat and egg production. The Pekin is pure white with an orange bill and orange legs.
We hope Blondie will grow to full size and one day rear a brood of her own on Fleet Pond.
A gallery of Marvellous Mallards can be found here.
Photo credits: Vicki Jull and Michelle Salter