We all look forward to the arrival of the duck eggs with great enthusiasm. It does not matter how many times you see chicks or ducks hatch you cannot help but be amazed.
The children take some amazing photos using a banged up old camera with a broken switch and held together by an elastic band. With sketches and notes it is just another tool that they use to help record the growth and changes of the ducklings.
The 7 eggs arrived on Wednesday the 29th June they were placed in the little egg incubator, which kept the eggs warm moist and even turned them. Our teacher Miss Clissold tells us that this is because when they are growing they can stick to the side of the egg, so the mother regularly turns the eggs to prevent this. This 'clutch' of eggs were laid 28 days ago.
By the time we were ready to go home on there appeared a little hole in two of the eggs and we could hear lots of chirping from the eggs. We were all very excited!
We arrived early next day and found that two of the chicks had already hatched and were clambering over the other eggs and again chirping to them. They looked very exhausted but soon more and more emerged. Mrs Thomas put some of the ducklings into the bigger brooding box which had a special Infra red bulb that gave off enough heat to keep them warm but safe. When they first came out they looked very wet and completely exhausted at cutting a hole and then breaking out from the eggshell.
The next day all the eggs are hatched and the ducklings had 'fluffed up' a bit. It was difficult to believe that they fitted inside the tiny eggs. Mrs Thomas pointed out to the children the soft 'down' feathers that covered the ducks was there to keep them warm by trapping the warm air near their bodies. Some people still call their duvets on their bed an 'eider down' because a long time ago the filling was the soft warm down feathers from the Eider duck. These ducks live on and near the sea and the mother lines her nest with the down feathers she plucks from her body. After the eggs had hatched local people used to harvest the feathers and stuff pillows and quilts with them. We can see the down feathers on the baby swallows in our school garden too! Even the sparrows have nested over our Library and we can see part of that nest.
Miss Clissold point out the little egg tooth on some of the ducks, it is very small and is used to help break the eggshell. Already some of the egg teeth have fallen off the first ducklings. We see that the duckling huddle together for warmth under the lamp. If they get too hot they can go for a walk to the cooler end of the box.
After a week the ducklings are ready to have their first paddle and they take to it like ... well 'like a duck to water', they do not have any fear and seem to love having a little paddle. The children notice how the webbed feet act like flippers and the ducks can move quite fast. It is not long before they even dive under the water. We are careful not to tire them out too much on their first outing. We have asked the children to wash their hands every time that they tuck the ducks and they soon see that the ducks have gone to toilet in the water so we certainly do not want to splash our hands around in that before we eat!