You need to look closely at this photo to spot the female Mallard sitting on her makeshift nest in the middle of my strawberry plants. I don’t know how she got in there, as the protective netting is intact, but I expect that she was enticed by the straw which we use to protect the strawberries. She has used the straw, and some duck feathers, to make her nest and she will lie there, motionless, until the eggs hatch.
This is the first time she has nested amongst the strawberries, but we have found her in the past hidden in the rhubarb bed and amongst some leeks. The kitchen garden is her favourite place for breeding. In a few days her brood will hatch and she will make her way with her babies to the pond. We usually see 12 or 13 ducklings. Unfortunately they never survive the first 24 hours, as they are too easily devoured by the crows and cats which are waiting, hungrily.
This female has two male companions. This menage a trois returns to our pond faithfully every year in February (from where, I don’t know). The same cycle of birth, followed by swift death, is repeated every year. I wonder if the female has painful memories of the previous year’s events- but at least, for now, she seems contented on her nest.