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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shall I be mother? Man, 50, becomes unlikely surrogate to eight ducklings after injured mum abandoned her eggs

By Amy Oliver

Mother duck: Spanish guesthouse owner Ponce Risco has found himself raising eight ducklings after they were abandoned as eggs by their mother

When Ponce Risco noticed a mother duck had abandoned her eggs he decided to take them under his wing.

But the Spanish guesthouse owner from Longton, Staffordshire, didn't quite bargain for the demands eight ducklings can bring.

After watching them hatch and keeping them incubated, the daffy birds now think Mr Risco is their mother and follow him everywhere.

They are kept in a pen during the day but do get to stretch their legs when they accompany Mr Risco on his daily walk to Longton Brickcroft Nature Reserve.

Ducker up: Mr Risco keeps the ducklings inside his family home in Longton at night but lets them out into a pen during the day

Mr Risco, 50, said: 'They think I'm their mother I think, as long as they can see me they are fine but if I go out of site they start making a noise and panic and huddle together.'

He added: 'I didn't ask for this, I was just trying to help.

'We were here with the eggs and they take an imprint of the first thing they see.'

The babies' mother and father, named Shy and Handsome by Mr Risco, visit his garden every year.

But, in April he realised something was amiss when Shy abandoned her eggs. In a moment of panic Mr Risco, his wife Lisa, 44, and 15-year-old son Lewis, bought a second-hand incubator for the eggs.

Troupe: The ducklings are happy when they can see Mr Risco but when he goes out of sight they huddle together and start quacking loudly

They later found Shy injured in a neighbouring garden. And, while she recovered, the family decided to try their hand at looking after the eggs.

They bought a second incubator and soon the eggs began to hatch - leaving the family with eight ducklings.

Mr Risco is currently keeping the ducks inside at night time, in a part of the house that isn't finished yet and in the day time they are outside in a pen.

Horsing around: The ducklings walk outside Mr Risco's home as a horse rider double takes while trotting past

Nice weather for ducks: Once or twice a day Mr Risco walks to Longton Brickcroft Nature Reserve and the ducklings follow him

And, their real mother is still around. Mr Risco built a floating house for Shy on his pond and she sleeps there but tends to wander off during the day.

'Hopefully they will take off soon,' he added.

The family hasn't named the ducklings but they are able to tell a couple of them apart.

Mr Risco concluded: 'They are a bit of a pain but I would do it all over again.
'They have given us so much joy, they are fantastic.'

Hatchlings: After noticing the mother had abandoned her eggs Mr Risco and his wife decided to take them on and bought an incubator. Here is one duckling just after it hatched

Don't dawdle: Mr Risco said raising the ducklings had been a 'bit of a pain' but that he would do it all over again



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