Last night as we left the boat for east london the tide was very high. We wondered how Cheepy would ever make it back to the world of wildlife, so treacherous it is. And as we wondered this, lo and behold, we spied the entire Cheepy family, (well, depleted family), balancing on some sort of floating platform in the water- pecking and scrabbling they were. It was kind of a relief to see mother duck- we realised this might be our big chance to get Cheepy rehabilitated into the wild, especially as he had been doing so well lately. The problem was, Mother duck and co were all in the middle of the river, tidal water all around, and we didn’t think Cheepy, in his condition, stood a chance of making it across the waves to be reunited. Then, when the duck family got off the floating mound and swam back to the reeds by the banks we realised that this really was our big chance. From the banks we could put Cheepy down to re-join his family (remember how he needs lubricating by the mother or else he’ll drown etc) and then he wouldn’t have to swim solo.
So Pat (he’s always the active one) seized the opportunity, ran back and collected the little guy. It was pretty tense- as Pat came running along the ramp, Cheepy in hand, the mother and ducklings gathered together and swam back to the floating mound. ‘Shoot!’ we thought, this is gonna be trickier than we thought. But, AH! The laws of nature had already a plan in place. Cheepy, from his temporary box home, starts to Cheep loudly. And of course, mother duck, from her floating mound, suddenly stretches up her long neck in response, ears pricked. (If indeed, she had any- which I guess she does, just not sure where she keeps them.. in her beak maybe? or by her little beady eyes?) She them cheeps loudly back and suddenly, nature takes over. In she dives off the platform, into the water, and all the while cheeping and swimming, she makes for the little cheep somewhere on the banks. Meanwhile all the remaining ducklings tumble off the mound, spluttering and wriggling following mother duck. Pat places Cheepy on the step (see below) and before we know it, they’re off, in convoy into the river.
BUT, will Cheepy keep up? Will his rehabilitation period have sorted him out? Or, as the runt of the litter, will he be swiped off the block at the next hurdle? NOW, it is out of our hands, and our wheelhouse (which is a good thing because actually having a pet Duck is not brilliant- they quack all the time and poo everywhere and want to swim but can’t until they wait long enough for their feathers to be ready).