Attracting waterfowl to ponds?

Tartan_Terrier

Well-Known Member
We've recently added a new piece of land to our shoot which has a couple of ponds on it, and we'd like to make them more attractive to waterfowl than they are at present.

The larger of the ponds has rather steep sides, so we're considering doing a bit of digging to make the slope less steep.

We're also considering making a couple of floating islands for roosting (perhaps with 'duck tubes')

We have fox problems, so are looking at options for feeding that are safer for the birds (maybe a fenced enclosure, or putting the feeders on high platforms). The law here restricts our options for fox control somewhat (we can control cubs outside the dens from June to the end of August, then the season proper starts on September 1st).

If all goes well, I think we'll be releasing duck next year (the guys who had it before us, were releasing 300 per year), but this year, we'll be relying on wild birds.

Any suggestions or feedback on our ideas would be most welcome.

Cheers
T_T
 

banus

Well-Known Member
good afternoon,i have used old potatoes and wheat mix some in large bins with 150mmx50mm slits cut around the bottom sides so the ducks etc can get to it approx 2mtrs from waters edge also same mix along the banking and into the shallows,i feed three times a week and five days a week in cold /snow conditions. only down side i have found is that canada geese find the feeders and make a big mess,i am lucky that in the uk canada geese are classed as pest and can be shot all year round.this is done with .22lr as not to disturd the ducks etc.good luck.if wild fowl have food they will continue to come.
 

Rowey

Well-Known Member
I always put half a bag of wheat on the bank/into the shallows. They soon come in. Feeding 2 to 3 times a week is fine. Had up to 200 feeding at times but averaging 40/50 plus. Great for flighting. Attracted mallard, teal, tufted and the odd wigeon. This on a inland pond by a small river
 

JTO

Well-Known Member
Rabbit guts are said to promote the sort of grub life that ducks love. Never tried it, though.

Water snails will attract Pochard(are there any left) and Tufted.

Once the duck have found the food, the most important thing is to drive them off mid-morning every day. The numbers visiting at evening flight will gradually build up as they bring back more of their friends. Don't disturb them after dark.

We found that once there are 20 coming in, you will get enough the following evening to shoot 20.

Don't try to get too many coming in before you shoot it, the Mallard can get bored with a place, especially if there are a lot of teal present, squabbling amongst themselves.
 

Tim.243

Well-Known Member
Just feed it.....tailings, brewers grains (mash) barley, rape, wheat, beans.....

Dig the edge off shallow or put an auto feeder out on your floating platform....

As you are relying on wild birds then you will have to gauge what they eat over a week....


Come the season you can always check the edges for feathers which is a good indicator...



Tim.243
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
I run three splashes controlled by a sluice. They run 9 inches deep so are specifically for Teal. The Mallard come in too, but in small numbers. A deep pond is going to struggle as you will only get divers if you don't dig the sides out and create shallow spots to feed. Work hard on the fox control when you are allowed to and the problem should stay under control.

I have tried wheat, barley and potatoes. I find barley by far the most effective. You need to adjust the amount you feed. Too little and you will not get the volumes of duck you want. Too much and it turns the ponds into a brown smelly mess. Start small and build up as it disappears.
 

Chasey

Well-Known Member
Just feed it.....tailings, brewers grains (mash) barley, rape, wheat, beans.....

Dig the edge off shallow or put an auto feeder out on your floating platform....

As you are relying on wild birds then you will have to gauge what they eat over a week....


Come the season you can always check the edges for feathers which is a good indicator...



Tim.243

Tim what sort of auto feeder do you use?
 

Tim.243

Well-Known Member
Tim what sort of auto feeder do you use?
We have one on order for the coming season it will go on one of the farms lakes has 2 islands so the released ducks will have shelter. It will be something around the £60.00 mark.

First year we have the go ahead for them so 75 as a trial will add to what comes in with the River Crouch not being very far away.

Having spoken to a chap who uses one he found it worked well on his water, not a huge investment so worth a go....

Digging the side out is not an option but we have done that on a small pond at the other end of the farm..


Tim.243
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
I had one of the American photo-electric types with a spinner on my pond thirty years ago. It used the big "brick" battery inside and could be set to spin for a set time when it operated.

So it came on once at dusk and, I think, once at dawn. Or maybe just dusk. I can't remember. But like the new outside security lights.

So, from memory, five, ten, fifteen seconds. The thing was the size of a two litre paint can and you fixed it to your own drum.

Three bolts and a big central hole for a tube to the spinner plate. It came with a paper template to cut thpse holes in the drum.

But it didn't like British sub-zero cold. Nor did the battery. Today I'd hope there are ones that have solar panel charging and resilient cold proof batteries?

If I had one again I'd see if there are sub-zero models and/or that use a battery resistant to freezing.

Either that or try and insulate the workings against frost or bring it inside.

Hope it helps. I think mine was Cabela's via Tim Hannam so three decades ago now. I hope they are more cold proof now!

If not, Tim.243, and others considering them bring it in to a shelter or shed if bad frost is forecast else it might be fatal to it.

Oh..and like simple pheasant feeders try and squirrel proof it if there are squirrels that can access it.

One my shoot away from my pond we tried the pheasant (and duck) operated knocker or pendulum type feeder pipes.

Spread some grain underneath and pheasant and duck do learn to knock the knocker. But probably works better, those, with put down pheasant and put down duck.

As with truly wild birds I doubt they would be able to learn how it works as they've not been familiar with it as poults.
 
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Pedro

Well-Known Member
Duck will eat many things, but the most commonly found species (mallard, teal, etc) definitely prefer barley. Wheat they like but not when it is waterlogged. So as to ensure dabblers can get to it, make some shallows about the depth of an upturned duck and feed there. Ideally feed every day and only to the amount where it is all eaten overnight. If the ponds are close enough to do that. If not, you can get away with feeding every 2 or 3 days. But again, aim to have none left, that way the duck will go elsewhere naturally in the daytime, so you don't have to disturb them, which can scare them off too much. Automatic feeders, put on the bottom of plastic drums on legs can work well. It spins grain out from the bottom. Place it on the edge of the water or just in it. They are timed and the best time would be late afternoon, before dark. Look at the Solway Feeders website to get some idea of them. I guess you will be able to get something similar over there. Improvements in battery technology have enhanced reliability. Shallow water is good for wild duck. Shallow are required for released, but deep water and islands are essential for them as they are less likely to fly off come danger.
 

Akeld

Well-Known Member
Spoiled potatoes, or spoiled anything for that matter, spread in the shallows. They'll soon find it
 

philip

Well-Known Member
Duck will eat many things, but the most commonly found species (mallard, teal, etc) definitely prefer barley. Wheat they like but not when it is waterlogged. So as to ensure dabblers can get to it, make some shallows about the depth of an upturned duck and feed there. Ideally feed every day and only to the amount where it is all eaten overnight. If the ponds are close enough to do that. If not, you can get away with feeding every 2 or 3 days. But again, aim to have none left, that way the duck will go elsewhere naturally in the daytime, so you don't have to disturb them, which can scare them off too much. Automatic feeders, put on the bottom of plastic drums on legs can work well. It spins grain out from the bottom. Place it on the edge of the water or just in it. They are timed and the best time would be late afternoon, before dark. Look at the Solway Feeders website to get some idea of them. I guess you will be able to get something similar over there. Improvements in battery technology have enhanced reliability. Shallow water is good for wild duck. Shallow are required for released, but deep water and islands are essential for them as they are less likely to fly off come danger.

Ive used automatic feeders on my splash, prior to that I hand feed and put two stealth cameras out to get a feed time and set the timer an hour before, taking in consideration for the dusk timing

The auto feeders work brilliant, save you some time, but I still like going down and watching from a distance for flight paths and wind directions with the dogs and just sit up with binos until after dusk.

you do need good dabbling areas, mallard love dabbling in a wind free safe environment, you can put your clock against them most times, Barley and busted wheat I find is the best and barrow load of soft manky carrots on the bank every now and then keeps em occupied and happy

I did try and have three small splashes once but that didn't work out, so I just feed one big size shallow area they seem to prefer that
 

jthyttin

Well-Known Member
We've recently added a new piece of land to our shoot which has a couple of ponds on it, and we'd like to make them more attractive to waterfowl than they are at present.
I don't know if it's possible in your case, but drying a pond for a year, letting weed grow and then submerging is a good way to introduce natural biomass that attract insects etc. for ducks to eat.

For purpose-built habitats it's recommended here in Finland to make e.g. 3 ponds and keep one of them dry each year.
 

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