Cyril Keen has been called a lot of things in his time, but perhaps he can add the title of Ashburton’s duck whisperer.
A mother duck and her family of fluffy ducklings have decided Cyril’s sunny backyard is as good a place as any to spend the day.
Cyril is not sure why they have chosen his place as they need to waddle past five other properties to get to his house.
When they first turned up there was the mother duck and 13 ducklings. Cyril wasn’t sure what to do.
“I walked them down to Braebrook pond which is about the length of a rugby field, got them back down in the water.
“Then a half an hour later my wife said she’s back here again, unfortunately she had lost five ducklings in that time.
“So I got the broom and drove her and the remaining ducklings back to the pond, it was funny she just waddled away in front of me.”
The next day the duck family turned up again.
“I don’t know what to do, does she want to make a home here? I’m retired and I don’t want another family,” he said.
Cyril is worried because there are cats in the neighbourhood, his theory on the missing ducklings is the cats and eels may have got them.
So he is keeping a watchful eye on the mother and her ducklings.
“It’s the start of spring and to have 13 little ducklings and the mother turn up on your back lawn, it’s amazing.”
SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan said many people welcome wildlife in their gardens but, in some cases, people may want to deter wild ducks due to the mess they may make.
“Birds are attracted to certain areas for a number of reasons including a suitable environment and available feed sources. Removing attractants is the most effective and humane way of deterring unwanted ducks from visiting a property.”
Ducks are attracted to areas with open water and large expanses of grass, such as parks, golf courses, and gardens with large lawns.
Ms Vaughan suggests planting native shrubs, tall grasses and other visual barriers helps to break-up large expanses of lawn, making the area less appealing to ducks.
“If you do not want ducks to stay on a property, do not feed them and remove any food which may be attracting them.
“Many types of ducks enjoy grazing on short grass so allowing grass to grow longer or reducing the area of lawns, particularly around ponds or pools, will make the property less appealing.
” Ducks may also be nesting at this time of year, so people shouldn’t move ducks that are incubating eggs, as this is likely to cause welfare issues.”
By Daniel Tobin