Daisy and the Unkindness

It has been a day of great heartbreak with Daisy losing her eggs to the Unkindness. Although she will never know the thousands of people who were quietly (or loudly) cheering her on. As ‘B’ in the UK says, ‘She was doing so good.’ She was. This morning Daisy did not like the rain hitting her bill and head. She would toss her head about trying to get the drops off. She had puffed her feathers so that they would cover the down on the nest so it would not get wet. Whether the showers contributed to Daisy deciding to leave late, we will never know. And will will never know if it was the end of the showers that prompted the Ravens to come to Daisy’s nest in the hope she would be away.

Last season some wondered if Daisy’s eggs were fertile. This year we could tell that they were. Some old timers reviewing Daisy’s incubation – she stayed on the eggs for most of the day before she finished laying the 8th egg – felt looking at the one egg that Daisy flew away with that hatch could have been 10-11 days away. It was not to be.

Daisy returned to her nest at 07:50:02 to find her nest and eggs destroyed. I simply cannot imagine how she must have felt seeing that precious down scattered all over the nest – and then to see some egg shells – and one large portion of an egg. It was immediately clear that there had been a duckling developing in that egg – it was not simply a yolk. Daisy gathered up that portion of an egg and flew off the nest with it at 07:51:10. Six minutes later at 07:57:19, Daisy returns to the nest.

On this return, Daisy surveyed the entire nest. She found some shells, she went to the rim of the nest where she normally flies off, and hesitates. It is 07:59:07. She goes back near the egg cup. Daisy gathers some of the down and looks for more shells. At 08:07:21 Daisy again walks over to the rim of the nest. She stands looking out for nearly a minute. At 08:08:19 she goes back to the nest cup. At 08:08:27 Daisy lays down on the nest cup. She begins tucking and rolling – it would have been easy to imagine that the Ravens might have missed some of the eggs due to our little duck’s behaviour.

Daisy continues to gather up down, tucking, and rolling what would have been eggs with her strong legs and webbed feet.

While Daisy was on the nest, there were periods where she froze just like she would do when the Ravens came on the nest. I have three separate incidents and there could have been more. One instance was 17 minutes long.

Daisy flew off the nest in the old Ironbark Tree for the last time at 09:10:45.

I wish I could look at the nest and pretend Daisy is just off foraging.

As I am reminded, the odds against Daisy hatching these ducklings was only 15%. This season was so different. Daisy was not playing tag with Dad, the White-Bellied Sea Eagle. Indeed, the Sea Eagles had visited and paid no mind they were so busy with the Pied Currawong attacking them. There was then this hope that developed especially since Daisy so valiantly defended her nest against the Ravens twice.

Daisy might begin laying eggs for her second clutch in 47 days. The laying of eggs and the incubation period really puts demands on the body of the hen. It takes some time for her to regain her health in order to begin the process over again. There are only two clutches per season.

It has been a difficult year for each of us. Your list will be different than mine but mine began first with the loss of Malin, then K2 Big Red and Arthur’s second hatch, then ‘Little 4’ of 367 Collins Street Falcons, and last but not the least of them, Yurruga at the Orange Falcon scrape. There were, of course, others – the Finnish Ospreys and their Mum, Milda’s two chicks…the list grows longer thinking about it.

Take some time to breathe. Daisy was a remarkable duck and we all began to believe that she would overcome the odds. I have asked a friend who is often down by the Discovery Centre to find Daisy and send us a picture if she would. It would give us each some closure to see Daisy in her element paddling around and eating.

Thank you to everyone that wrote to me. It is so touching that so many people care about this wonderful duck. It will take me some time to answer each of you but, I will. For now please take care of yourselves.

Thank you to the Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and video captures.