It was just yesterday that I decided the time had come to introduce you to Donald. And then, this morning, he’s gone.
Donald is a duck. A drake, in fact. He appears to be a cross between a wild Mallard and a Khaki Campbell.
I first saw him, six or seven weeks ago, just above the shore line of Home Park, at the bottom end of our croft. He wasn’t alone.
Nearby, and also seen for the first time that morning, was a wild Greylag Goose, apparently injured. One wing seemed to be what is termed ‘dropped’, and perhaps it was limping, slightly too. Geese are social creatures, and the nearest large group was across the Caolas Eirisgeidh on the opposite shore – on the Ludaig common grazings in South Uist. Ducks generally keep to smaller family groups, and certainly couples stick together. This was more likely to be a juvenile driven away from the family group, or competitors, to start a life of his own elsewhere.
Goose and Duck stayed around a while, close to the shore, looking out to sea minding their own business. Our own geese – and hens, and sheep – seemed intrigued, but kept their distance. Then, a fortnight or so ago, goose was no longer around. Perhaps it have recovered enough to fly away to rejoin the flock.
Left on his own, the duck started to seek the company of our own domestic animals – the geese in particular, being nearest in shape and habits ; but the larger the gaggle of geese, the less welcoming they are of strangers. But Donald – as was by now referring to him when reporting croft news to Denise over mid-morning coffee and toast – persisted all the same, and soon he got to see the special rations our geese get every morning, and the prospect of free food seemed to motivate him even more. Soon he was diving in between geese and sheep, dodging the pecks and jabs, and gaining in confidence. Recently, he started following me around.
And then, this morning, he’s gone.