Little Jess is delighted: the ducklings have hatched.
Mother duck is sitting still. There are eggs under her and three ducklings poking out from under her downy breastfeathers.
The long grass and stems on the island have been flattened by frost and rain, so the female mallard has no cover apart from her colouring that blends with the wintry vegetation.
She attempts to look like rock.
Once the rest of her eggs have hatched: her frenetic soot balls will find their true element on the water, and safety from predators.
For now she must sit- and wait –
while Jess and I hope for a good morning.
There is another young survivor on the farm road this evening –
Moira’s half calf, a quasi autonomous republic,
population of one
who watches his mother up to the yard to be fed and penned
and stays cropping the sweet grass at the base of the birches
for a good hour
up to the bucket of nuts I had placed there for him.
With just a litre of mother’s milk coaxed down his reluctant gullet,
he has made it up the road