Easter visitors

A couple of mornings ago Lily called to me from the cockpit. ‘Come up quick’, she yelled. I was in the middle of making breakfast, but the urgency of her call made me stop was I was doing. Excitedly, she pointed to the water, where a mother duck was busy shepherding her seven ducklings on their very first paddle in the river. What a moment. Seven tiny balls of fuzzy perfection, their little legs and feet paddling for all they were worth. When they put on a burst of speed they were so light they actually walked on the water momentarily. We have been besotted ever since.

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Carina has been alongside the Sanlúcar pontoon for over a week now and we are regularly visited by the many mallards that live nearby. They are a constant feature of village life. Groups of ducks waddle through the streets, knowing which houses to stop outside where they are sure of a snack from the Spanish grandmother living inside. A couple of weeks ago I went to the bakery and asked the baker for the loaf of bread sitting on the counter. He wouldn’t sell it to me. It was yesterday’s bread, he said, and he was saving it for the ducks!

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The arrival of these seven ducklings is a delight. But they are also causing me maternal worry. I counted them the first morning – seven. And every time I see them I count them again, to make sure all seven are still there. A big seagull appeared on the river a few days ago and I’m worried about the duckies.

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The ducklings aren’t the only avian visitors we’ve had recently. I was in the forward cabin a week ago. The hatch was open and I could hear the most delightful trilling birdsong coming from the fore deck. Quietly I peeked out the hatch and saw a swallow sitting on our guard rail. It was joined by its mate, and for a couple of days, while we moored in the middle of the river, the two were regular visitors to Carina’s fore deck.

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There have been attempts at nest building aboard Carina too. One day, while the girls were at school, I was sitting quietly working on my laptop in the saloon. I guess our visitors thought no-one was home. I stopped what I was doing and watched as a pair of what I think were house sparrows began investigating the inside of the sail cover on the main mast boom. I had no choice but to shoo them away. I couldn’t have them build a nest and lay eggs, only to be made homeless with any disturbance of the sail cover. It doesn’t stop sparrows coming to visit, however, and every day they alight on our guard rails, cockpit and rigging, chirp-chirruping for all they’re worth.

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What a delightful and joyful sign that spring is here.

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9 thoughts on “Easter visitors

  1. Lovely only problem the house Martin’s are swallows in fact they could be the ones on their way back to our garage in California Falkirk Scotland Les and Linda

      • Sorry to disagree
        The house martin is a small bird with glossy blue-black upper parts and pure white under parts. It has a distinctive white rump with a forked tail and, on close inspection, white feathers covering its legs and toes. It spends much of its time on the wing collecting insect prey. The bird’s mud nest is usually sites below the eaves of buildings
        Swallows are small birds with dark, glossy-blue backs, red throats, pale underparts and long tail streamers.
        I have no doubt the village is populated with house martins but the guy on the boat is definitely a swallow, can I respectively suggest doing a comparison on the net, I was going to attach a couple of comparison photos but can’t seem to be able to do it.

        Les Pryde

      • Les, I’ve edited post, so it now correctly says ‘swallows’, and I’ve changed the song link. Was out walking yesterday evening and for the first time noticed the very obvious differences between swallows and house martins. Even more thrilled now to know that our boat is being used as a place of rest for swallows on their long migration north!

  2. Pingback: Carina of Devon - Easter visitors

  3. Ah Martina, I always love to see your new posts, the pair of swallows might be our lads who come back every April to live in our porch ( and regularly dive bomb into our house for a visit) here in Abbeyleix, Co Laois!!

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