Friend Ted was animated when we turned up for duty as volunteers at The Alnwick Garden last week.
He’d just witnessed a mallard duck leading 17 tiny ducklings out of the Ornamental Garden, then lost sight of them in the woodland growth.
We were working on the long bed of azaleas and primulas below the Cherry Orchard, when over the hill they marched, heading for the pond. What a joyous sight to see Ted tagging on the end of their column and seeing them safely to water.
Five years ago, the Cherry Orchard also hosted a mallard which nested in a group of border epimedium.
Eight ducklings and one pheasant chick emerged from that. Don’t ask! We rescued the latter before it discovered that unlike its siblings it could not swim. It ended up safely in a local animal sanctuary.
Back to the present, we have a robin nesting in ivy right next to the garage door but it’s getting used to our presence.
Stop press: The first two swallows arrived at Townfoot Stables, Shilbottle, on April 14.