WWA Wildfowl Nest Project
How can you improve the population of wild mallard in your area? Read on.....
Nest success rates for the ground nesting mallard is appalling due to predation and flooding. To combat this, the WWA has been erecting artificial nest structures on many of its own sanctuary areas, wetlands and ponds in the vicinity of the River Kent estuary to promote the successful breeding of the wild mallard population. All of these structures have been erected on land leased by the WWA. Structures have ranged from wooden nest boxes built by WWA members, to sunken plastic barrel nests & our latest scheme of off ground mallard 'hen houses' that have been used very successfully by the Delta Waterfowl (USA) & the Devenish Wildfowlers in Northern Ireland. We have now urged many clubs on mainland Britain to jump aboard the nest tube project and we are now seeing an ever increasing number of clubs and individuals erecting these structures on their own wetlands. Our Mallard Nest tube or Hen House project all began on the Cumbria Wildlife Trusts Ulpha wetland in 2011. To date we have put out over 40 ‘hen houses’ on our ponds and wetlands in Cumbria and Lancashire and we have had huge success with this project. Oddly enough the nest tube project had no success in its first year, not a single tube was used. Apparently this is common according to the guys at Delta Waterfowl. In the second year things really took off with over 70% of the tubes being occupied, hatch rates were >80% and some tubes were even used twice in one nesting season. Its incredible how these tubes offer so much protection to the incubating female and her clutch of eggs from ground and aerial predators. She can now get her clutch to duckling stage very successfully. The nest tubes are most successful when place at eye level on poles over water. Hay is used for the inner and outer packing material. We use a 7' x 3' roll of 16 gauge weld wire, 1 inch by 1 inch to make a nest tube. This is fixed to a deck board by steel cable ties or steel wire. A 20cm long aluminium table leg is screwed to the base of the board which is then slotted into the metal scaffold pole that is driven into the wetland sedment. The tube is filled with a good packing of hay and that's it!! Now wait until Mrs Mallard finds it. You'll be delighted when you see your first tube occupied. She first makes a nest bowl in the middle and begin laying eggs in the tube over the space of a week or 2. She'll then start incubating and you'll see her sat tightly in the nest tube. All nest tubes must be annually maintained. We restuff ours with hay in February just after the Wildfowling season has finished. We remove any shell fragments or dud eggs from the previious year at the same time. You'll be amazed just how bare the tubes become after being occupied during the nesting season. If you don't believe us then take a look at our You Tube video that we made over the last 3 nesting seasons.
The nest tube idea has taken off in Britain, Finland, Germany, Russia.....it is already spreading ..anyone can make them...so please erect nest tubes on your own ponds and do your bit to help your mallard population.