Hope the Duckling

Staff living on the Wycombe Abbey site during lockdown have discovered the benefits to the empty grounds. Although the girls are not here, the Wycombe wildlife is thriving and many new animals have taken residence, making the most of the quieter setting.

This is the story of the rescue of Hope the duckling.

One of our resident staff members was cycling around the lake and noticed a swan flapping in an agitated manner in the reeds, so cycled round the edge of the lake to get a better look. A duck family of mum, dad and about 11 ducklings appeared from the reeds.

However, the swans were protecting their nest which was close by, so the duck family swam off across the lake. Unfortunately, one little duckling was left behind in the commotion and was seen bobbing about looking very lost and in the company of two protective swans – things were not looking good. The quick decision was made to save the duckling from being picked off by a seagull or a heron. Creativity was needed in order to save the duckling, so a long pole with a sieve attached to the end was employed! Using this, the duckling was quickly scooped out to safety. A thorough search was carried out around the lake to try to find the duckling’s family, but the family were far away by this point. Tiny and shivering, the duckling, now named ‘Hope’ was tucked inside a fleece and taken to her new home. By the time she had warmed up, a  make-shift heat pad had been assembled for her in a box by a warm radiator and this became her night-time quarters.

Luckily, the member of staff to have found Hope had recent experience of raising ducklings during a science project in school, so bought her some ’chick crumb’, made her a water-feeder. Hope quickly improved and started to grow. On day two she weighed 30 grams and within two weeks she had grown to 250 grams.

Fortunately for Hope the school was in lockdown so her new owners were at home to take care of her. She graduated from paddling in a lunchbox to a science equipment tray and then on to diving in a storage box, enjoying foraging in the weed as water from the lake was used. Hope now spends her days in the garden with the school rabbits and when she is fully grown and can fly, it is hopeful that she will return to the lake. It is an absolute pleasure to have her with us at school and she has certainly proved a lovely distraction during lockdown.