Dave Cheetham (June)
It's a beautiful time out on the rivers and lakes at the moment. Everywhere you go you see young birds taking to the water for the first time, always under the watchful eye of their mother.
I took this photo of a female Mallard and one of her chicks whilst out canoeing on the River Dee yesterday. The proud mother actually had three chicks in tow but she spent all her time attempting to gather them together and the moment she got one into line the others were off again.
Mallards nest in depressions in the ground usually no more than one hundred yards from the water. Once the eggs are laid, the male considers his work complete and leaves.
The female incubates the eggs for about a month before they hatch, then within a day of them being hatched she leads her chicks to the water for their first swimming lesson.